Japan is currently dealing with its deadlist rain-related disaster since 1982. Over the past week, heavy rains have wreaked havoc across the nation but especially in the western region, causing flooding and landslides. So far, the death toll sits at 176, but more than 50 people are still missing.
Some of the deceased include two sisters, ages 6 and 9, who died in a landslide, reports the BBC. A landslide also killed a 3-year-old girl, per Reuters. By Wednesday, the risk of landslides had largely diminished, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, but the disaster isn’t over.
More than eight million people are under evacuation order with many now living their days in shelters. Thousands of home have lost power, and roughly 270,000 homes are without water, per the BBC. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Okayama, a hard-hit city in western Japan, Wednesday to meet with survivors.
The torrential rainfall—roughly 70 inches over the last two weeks, per the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang—was brought on by moisture from the tropical Pacific, connected in part to last week’s Typhoon Prapiroon. While heavy rains are nothing new for this region of the world, residents weren’t prepared for this level of flooding.
Flood hazard and landslide maps weren’t complete for most of the nation until 2013, Reuters reports. And homes were already sitting on flood-prone areas by then.
The impacts of climate change are bringing the threat of more floods like this front and center. The number of heavy rainfall days and strong typhoons are projected to increase in Japan as the Earth warms, according to a 2015 government report. A 2016 study further supported the possibility of an uptick in powerful typhoons—not just for Japan but for East Asian countries, in general.
Meanwhile Typhoon Maria, which hit Category 5 intensity at its peak, is causing trouble elsewhere in the Pacific. It poured rain upon Japan’s Ryukyu Islands, but now it’s hitting China with rainfall expected to last until Thursday.
This is looking more and more like the norm as climate change ruins everything.