Flood, mudslides from strong rain in Japan kill at least 9

A part of Fukushima prefectural road is damaged by floodwaters after torrential rain in Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019.
Updated 26 October 2019

Flood, mudslides from strong rain in Japan kill at least 9

  • Rescue workers were looking for one person still missing in Chiba
  • The death toll included eight people in Chiba and one in Fukushima

TOKYO: Torrential rain that caused flooding and mudslides in towns east of Tokyo left at least nine people dead and added fresh damage in areas still recovering from recent typhoons, officials said Saturday.

Rescue workers were looking for one person still missing in Chiba. Another person was unaccounted for in Fukushima, farther north, which is still reeling from damage wrecked by Typhoon Hagibis earlier this month.

The death toll included eight people in Chiba and one in Fukushima. While rains and floodwater subsided, parts of Chiba were still inundated. About 4,700 homes were out of running water and some train services delayed or suspended.

In the Midori district in Chiba, mudslides crushed three houses, killing three people who were buried underneath them. Another mudslide hit a house in nearby Ichihara city, killing a woman. In Narata and Chonan towns, three drivers drowned when their vehicles were submerged.

“There was enormous noise and impact, ‘boom’ like an earthquake, so I went outside. Then look what happened. I was terrified,” said a resident who lived near the crushed home in Midori. “Rain was even more intense than the typhoons.”

In Fukushima, a woman was found dead in a park in Soma city after a report that a car was washed away. A passenger is still missing.

Rain also washed out Friday’s second round of the PGA Tour’s first tournament held in Japan, the Zozo Championship in Inzai city.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held an emergency task force meeting Saturday morning and called for “the utmost effort in rescue and relief operations.”

He also urged quicks repairs of electricity, water and other essential services to help restore the lives of the disaster-hit residents.

The Prime Minister’s Office said the average rainfall for the entire month had fallen in just half a day Friday.

The downpour came from a low-pressure system above Japan’s main island of Honshu that moved northward later Friday. Power was restored Saturday at most of the 6,000 Chiba households that had lost electricity.

Two weeks ago, Typhoon Hagibis caused widespread flooding and left more than 80 people dead or presumed dead across Japan.

Yoshiki Takeuchi, an office worker who lives in a riverside house in Chiba’s Sodegaura city, said he had just finished temporary repairs to his roof after tiles were blown off by the September typhoon when Friday’s rains hit hard.

“I wasn’t ready for another disaster like this. I’ve had enough of this, and I need a break,” he told Kyodo News.


Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

Updated 10 December 2019

Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

  • International Court of Justice seeks to address atrocities committed by Myanmar

DHAKA: Several members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar expressed optimism on Monday that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would rule in their favor once it began its three-day hearing against Myanmar on Tuesday.

The case was filed by Gambia on behalf of all Muslim nations from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with the ICJ over the alleged persecution of the Rohingya by the Myanmar military.

On Nov. 18, the court decided to hold the hearings from Dec.10 to 12. Gambia’s justice minister will lead his country during the hearings.

Both Canada and Bangladesh have been supporting Gambia by providing different data and information regarding the atrocities against the Rohingya.

Myanmar’s state councillor and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has already reached  the Netherlands to lead the defense lawyers on behalf of her country at the ICJ.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque will remain present at the courtroom to witness the process.

He will lead a 20-member team, comprising government officials and civil society representatives.

Rohingya at Cox’s Bazar are highly optimistic of securing justice at the ICJ.

“We think justice will be ensured because all international human rights groups, different UN organizations and the international community have got evidence of the persecution on the Rohingya. All of them have visited the refugee camps many times and listened to the plight of the Rohingya,” Sawyed Ullah, a community leader from Jamtoli, told Arab News.

“Also, we have strong evidences of atrocities committed by the Myanmar government to root out the Rohingya from their birth place, Rakhine,” Ullah added.

“Without ensuring accountability, there will not be any safety and justice in Rakhine. Once the accountability is restored,  all of us will be able to go back home.”

Ramjan Ali, another refugee from the Kutupalang camp, said: “Myanmar’s government has forcibly displaced the Rohingya from their own land and that compelled us to shelter here at the refugee camps. Isn’t it enough evidence to justify our allegations against the Myanmar government?”

Ramjan Ali added: “Still the situation in Rakhine is very bad as we receive information from our relatives over there. We need protection from the international forces before any repatriation, and the ICJ’s decision will be helpful for us in this regard.”

Rohingya human rights activist Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the German-based Free Rohingya Coalition described the ICJ’s move as historic.

“It is first ever since we are persecuted. We have been seeking for justice since very long time,” Lwin told Arab News, adding that “finally the case is now at the world court and although it will take several years we are now excited for provisional measures from the court.”

Lwin, along with some 200 Rohingya rights activists from around the world, is set to hold a protest rally at the Hague from Dec. 11 during the ICJ’s hearing.

“We are expecting very much from the ICJ. Regardless whether Myanmar follows the decisions of the court this will have a huge impact. There won’t be any other justice mechanisms if this international court of justice can’t ensure the justice for us,” added Lwin.

Expressing his frustration on the repatriation process, Lwin said that the Myanmar government still had a “genocidal policy” on the Rohingya.

“I don’t think repatriation of the Rohingya will take place soon unless the government is considering to fulfill our demands,” he said.

The ICJ’s final decision will hold strong significance as any decisions taken by the ICJ are binding on member states.

Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories of the Genocide Convention.