Death toll from torrential Japan rain reaches 200

KURE, Japan (The Japan News/ANN) — The death toll from record rainfall that hit mainly western Japan reached 200, while 21 people remained missing, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced at a press conference on Thursday.

 “Based on the policy of saving lives as a top priority, we are conducting search and rescue operations for affected people, while working with full force to restore roads and water supply,” Suga stressed at the press conference. 
 The heavy rain also left about 240,000 households in 11 prefectures without running water as of Thursday morning, according to calculations by The Yomiuri Shimbun. The water outage has prolonged difficulties in the daily lives of affected people. Amid continuing severely hot weather in the rain-struck areas, the Disaster Health Emergency Assistance Team (DHEAT) started its operation in Okayama Prefecture on the same day.
 The number of households that still had no running water came to 206,868 in Hiroshima Prefecture, 21,610 in Ehime Prefecture and 9,609 in Okayama Prefecture, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. 
 The water has been cut off in these areas mainly due to damage to water pipes and flooded water purification plants as a result of the heavy rains. Each municipality is urgently working to resume water service as soon as possible.    
 In Hiroshima Prefecture, a tunnel that draws water from a river in the city of Hiroshima to pass it to Kure was blocked with earth and sand, halting the water supply to Kure and other areas. The Hiroshima city government is aiming to resume operation of the tunnel on Friday.
 Also, in Mihara in the prefecture, a water intake facility was submerged. The Mihara city government aims to resume operation of the intake facility on Monday. 
 However, the two cities said that it appears more time will be needed to resume the full operations of the two facilities in order to supply water to all households.
 In Uwajima, Ehime Prefecture, a water purification plant was damaged by mudflows. When it can resume its full operation remains unknown. 
 In addition to the water outage, people in afflicted areas were plagued with severely hot weather.
 The hot weather is forecast to continue through Tuesday, and the temperature is expected to reach 35 C or more in a wide range of the disaster-affected areas on Saturday and Sunday.
 According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, 6,762 people in 15 prefectures were staying in evacuation centers as of 5:30 a.m. Thursday.
 In light of the situation in evacuation centers, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases warned of possible epidemics, such as food poisoning, acute gastroenteritis, diarrhea and colds. The institute urged evacuees to frequently wash their hands, but not to share towels with others to dry their hands. 
 At the request of the Okayama prefectural government, the central government started activities by DHEAT in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, on Thursday. 
 Under the DHEAT system, established mainly after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, teams are set up in each prefecture and some ordinance-designated cities, with the health ministry coordinating teams to be dispatched to disaster-hit areas. 
 This time, five people who are qualified under the DHEAT system, including doctors and public health nurses from a team in Nagasaki Prefecture, have been dispatched to Kurashiki. They are engaged in healthcare-related tasks, including measures to deal with infectious disease control, for the affected people through July 31.