President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday sent his condolences to Japan following torrential rains and landslides that have left scores of people dead.
According to Japanese media on Sunday, the death toll has risen to 81 after record torrential rain pummelled wide swathes of Japan since Thursday, triggering landslides and flooding.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa has, on behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, sent a message of condolences to Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and to the government and the people of Japan following the torrential rains and landslides that have left scores of people dead, with many others injured. The disaster has also destroyed residential, commercial and public property,” said the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
It was reported that scores were killed in the rains while many others were missing.
President Ramaphosa said the thoughts of the South African people are with the people of Japan during this difficult time.
In addition, the South African Embassy in Japan has not reported any South African victims and will maintain close contact with authorities.
“The Embassy stands ready to provide assistance should there be any South African citizens in need of support,” said the department.
The department said those concerned about the wellbeing of their relatives in Japan can contact the department on 012 351 1000.
Meanwhile, as of 7pm local time on Sunday, 2.5 million people in 15 prefectures were still under evacuation orders.
According to Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, as of 2pm local time on Sunday, the record rain had caused land disasters such as landslides at 201 locations in 28 of Japan's 47 prefectures.
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has lifted the emergency warnings against heavy rain in all of the 11 prefectures which it had issued the warnings for, but continued to warn against subsequent disasters such as landslides and flooding.
According to the JMA, an active seasonal rain front has been causing torrential rain in most eastern and western regions of Japan since Thursday.
The agency has warned that Japan's Kinki region, which includes Kyoto, Hyogo and Osaka prefectures, could be particularly hard-hit by downpours, escalating the risk of floods, landslides, lightning and tornadoes.
Rivers from Hokkaido to Kyushu have been reported as running above flood warning levels and the weather agency has warned of further landslides possibly being triggered by the record-levels of rainfall.
Transportation services have been severely disrupted since Thursday, with Shinkansen bullet train services partially suspended in most parts of western Japan and major arterial highways partially closed.
Manufacturing was also hit hard by the heavy downpour and flooding, as major carmakers such as Mazda Motor Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and manufacturer such as Panasonic Corp. suspending operations at some plants in western Japan.
Local tourism also suffered a blow, according to reports, as tourist events and hotel reservations were cancelled in areas hit by the heavy rain.
Local retailers and convenience stores in some areas of western Japan were also closed due to the bad weather.
The JMA has been urging people to stay vigilant and listen out for emergency alarms from local governments issuing advisories or calling for immediate evacuations. – SAnews.gov.za-Xinhua