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article imageFlooding, evacuations and worry as Japan reels from Typhoon Etau

By Karen Graham     Sep 10, 2015 in World
Tokyo - As the winds and rain from Typhoon Etau continue to lash Japan, evacuation alerts have been ordered in Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures, and an additional 800,000 people across eastern Japan are under evacuation orders.
Forecasters are calling typhoon Etau "former typhoon" as it winds down, but the threat to Japan is not over. Tens of thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes on Thursday as the heavy rains pounded the country, causing the Kinugawa River to burst its banks, taking the experts by surprise.
Viewers watched on live television Thursday as dramatic helicopter rescues were made in the city of Joso. People clung to the rooftops of homes, waving towels at rescuers, all the while watching as floodwater from the Kinugawa River washed away cars, homes and businesses. At least 10 people are missing. The waters from the breach in the levee reached five miles from the river.
RT News says over a dozen injuries have been reported, including a 77-year-old woman who broke her leg after falling in the strong winds. Part of a hotel in the town of Nikko — whose ancient shrines and Buddhist temples are listed as World Heritage sites by UNESCO — have collapsed.
"This is a scale of downpour that we have not experienced before. Grave danger could be imminent," forecaster Takuya Deshimaru told an emergency press conference on Thursday, according to the Malaysia Island Digest.
The rainfall amounts observed with Typhoon Etau are generally categorized as being "once in every 50-years amounts," says Weather.com. Over 30 landslides have been reported so far, trapping 11 people who were later rescued. The rainfall in some areas broke records, being the highest ever recorded in Japan since records have been kept. Many areas received over 20 inches of rain in 24 hours.
Etau smashed into Japan on Wednesday with 125 mph winds, moving into the Sea of Japan later that same day. But the horrific rainfall has continued. Parts of Tochigi have seen over two feet of rainfall since Monday, says the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that left 20,000 people dead, Japan has made disaster preparedness a number one priority. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was quoted by the BBC as saying, "The government will stand united and do its best to deal with the disaster... by putting its highest priority on people's lives."
A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said the horrendous rainfall has exacerbated contamination problems at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant. The site's drainage pumps were overwhelmed by the torrential downpour, sending hundreds of tons of contaminated water into the ocean.
More about typhoon etau, massive flooding, fukushima nuclear plant, city of joso, Evacuations
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