Helicopters pluck residents to safety as rains lash Japan

A resident is rescued by a rescue helicopter at a residential area flooded by the Kinugawa river, caused by typhoon Etau, in Joso. (Reuters)

Helicopters plucked dozens of residents from the tops of their homes in Japan on Thursday, but rescue officials said they were unable to keep up with all the pleas for help after raging floodwaters swamped parts of a city north of Tokyo.

As heavy rain pummeled Japan for a second straight day, the Kinugawa River broke through a flood berm, sending a wall of water into Joso, about 50 kms northeast of Japan’s capital.

National broadcaster NHK showed aerial footage of rescuers lowered from helicopters and clambering onto second-floor balconies to reach stranded residents. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.

In one dramatic scene, the rescuer could be seen descending four times from a military helicopter over a 20-minute period to lift up four people one-by-one, as a deluge of water swept around their home.

Japan’s Kyodo news service reported that 39 people had been rescued by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, as its military is called, and rescue work was continuing.

The Transport Ministry estimated that 6,900 households have been affected by the flooding, Kyodo said, adding only about 2,500 of the city’s residents had been evacuated beforehand to shelters. The floodwaters reached at least 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the breach.

Tokyo was drenched with rain, but the hardest-hit area was to the north in Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
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