Japanese Self Defense Forces have been deployed to rescue people stranded by heavy rains and flooding across parts of east and central Japan in the wake of Typhoon Etau.
Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures were placed on high alert due to record-breaking rainfall, the Japan Meteorological Agency said Thursday, while officials said at least 170,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.
“Tochigi Prefecture is facing a grave danger and is in an emergency situation. It is experiencing unprecedented downpour,” Japan Meteorological Agency Spokesman Takuya Deshimaru told reporters.
In parts of Tochigi, more than 500 millimeters of rain had fallen in 24 hours, Japan’s NHK reported. That’s about double the amount that typically falls in the region for all of September, it said.
Fukushima Prefecture, in eastern Japan, experienced more than 300 millimeters of rain in 48 hours — the heaviest downpour there in 50 years, NHK added.
Officials are particularly concerned about the threat from continued flooding and mudslides.