Ramaphosa sends message of condolence to Japan following deaths due to torrential rains

Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: Esa Alexander

President Cyril Ramaphosa sent his condolences to Japan on Sunday after at least 69 people were killed and 1‚850 were stranded in the western Japanese city of Kurashiki.

Ramaphosa sent the message to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe following torrential rains and landslides.

“The thoughts of the South African people are with the people of Japan during this difficult time‚” Ramaphosa said.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said the South African Embassy in Japan had not reported any South African victims and remained in close contact with the Japanese authorities. Those concerned about of relatives in Japan can contact Dirco on 012 351 1000.

Reuters reports that Kurashiki‚ with a population of just under 500‚000‚ has been hit hardest by the torrential rains. The death toll is the highest caused by water disasters since 2014 when 77 people were killed in heavy rain which set off landslides in Hiroshima in western Japan.

Scores of patients‚ some still in their pajamas‚ and nurses were rescued from the isolated Mabi Memorial Hospital in boats rowed by members of Japan’s Self Defence Forces. A city official said 170 patients and workers had been evacuated from the hospital and another 130 people‚ including 70 patients‚ were waiting to be rescued.

Japan’s government set up an emergency management centre at the prime minister’s office and some 54‚000 rescuers from the military‚ police and fire departments were dispatched across a wide swath of south-western and western Japan.

The rain began late last week as the remnants of a typhoon fed into a seasonal rainy front‚ with humid‚ warm air from the Pacific making it still more active - a pattern similar to one that set off flooding in south-western Japan exactly a year ago that killed dozens. The front then remained in one place for an unusually long time‚ the JMA said.

- With additional copy from Reuters

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.