TOKYO — A deluge of water overwhelmed a residential neighborhood in Japan on Thursday, forcing desperate residents onto their roofs after a levee along a nearby river breached.
Local police said as many as 7 people were missing in the city of Joso some 36 miles north of Tokyo, while 70 had been rescued, public broadcaster NHK reported.
Dramatic live video showed residents waving from roofs in as Japanese military helicopters circled. One man seen hugging onto a telephone pole was later rescued by a chopper after the Kinu River overflowed its banks.
In another 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.
Around 6,900 buildings in Joso were flooded by the deluge, an official at the Land and Transport Ministry told NBC News.
In nearby Kanuma, a woman died after a landslide swept through the first floor of a two-story home, according to local media reports. Rescuers were able to pull out a 65-year-old man but his wife's body was later dug up, NHK reported.
The breach and landslide came after Tropical Storm Etau tore through Japan, bringing more than 20 inches of rain within a 72-hour period. This prompted an emergency warning and the forced the evacuation of more than 100,000 people.
“We are experiencing heavy rain on an unprecedented scale, this is an urgent situation where grave danger may be approaching,” said the Meteorological Agency's Takuya Deshimaru told reporters early Thursday.