Many out of power, water in flood-hit Japan; over 150 dead

HIROSHIMA, Japan (AP) – Akira Tanimoto said his apartment narrowly survived the floods and mudslide at his residential complex over the weekend, and even if he wants to go back there with his wife and two pet birds, he can’t because there is no water, power or food available.

After their desperate run from floods that had hit the apartment complex where about a dozen of his neighbours were found dead, he returned to his place on Monday to check on his apartment, which was almost intact.

He also had to bring with him his beloved birds, which he initially had to leave behind.

Tanimoto wants to go back there with his wife, Chieko, and their yellow and green parakeets, Pi-chan and Kyako-chan, but said it would take a few weeks until they get the utility services back and clean the place.

“I can’t go back if I wanted to,” the 66-year-old retired Self-Defense serviceman said, holding a bird cage, in which the birds chirped as he spoke. “Electricity is out, water is cut off and there is no information there.”

Rescuers were combing through mud-covered hillsides and along riverbanks yesterday searching for dozens of people missing after heavy rains unleashed flooding and mudslides in southwestern Japan, where the death toll has exceeded 150.

More than 50 people were unaccounted for as of yesterday evening, many in the hardest-hit Hiroshima area. At Tanimoto’s apartment complex, about a dozen victims have been found.

He and his wife grabbed the minimum necessities and walked about 1.5 kilometres to a fire engine Sunday after the floods and mudslides hit the complex. Debris and mudslides had stopped right outside the couple’s apartment door.

Mud waters cover streets after the Enoki River running through the town overflowed, in Fuchu, Hiroshima prefecture, southwestern Japan. – AP