Western Japan was hit by a severe weather disaster caused by Typhoon Maria just a few days ago. Torrential rains triggered deadly floods and landslides, causing at least 176 deaths and forcing millions of people to evacuate.
However, the number is not final since dozens are in a critical condition and even more people are missing. It is the worst weather disaster that Japan has seen in 36 years. So what are the reasons for this high death toll?
Exactly one year ago a similar tragedy happened in Japan and killed dozens of people. The pattern was very similar to this one: remains of Typhoon Prapiroon fed into a seasonal rainfall front fueled by warm air from the Pacific Ocean.
Experts said that the reason for torrential rains to become more frequent could be global warming. Global warming’s impact will increase as it progresses, and we need to prepare for even worse weather conditions.
Since 2005 all municipalities in Japan have been required to create and publicize maps showing the area with the risks of flooding and landslides. However, most of the homes in those areas were built even before that and not all of the people have been aware of these maps.
Additionally, people were not informed enough to know where to go in case of an emergency. Therefore, some of them just ignored the warnings.
Earthquakes Not Floods
Japan is the most prepared country for earthquakes since it is one of the most seismically-active places in the world. Dozens of regulations have been presented to protect people from earthquakes and to make buildings resistant to them. However, the improvements of flood control and evacuation plans have been drafted only after several recent disasters.
Most of the country is mountainous and people build houses on every bit of usable land. Therefore, a lot of people are living in areas that are not safe from floods.
Another factor is reforestation after World War 2. Many mountains were lodged and replanted with trees that cannot retain water as effectively as the old ones. This contributed to the creation of landslides, which have killed dozens of people in this disaster.