The perils of driving in torrential rain The perils of driving in torrential rain
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The perils of driving in torrential rain

    NHK World
    Correspondent
    Heavy rain from a low-pressure system hit eastern and northeastern Japan on Friday. Some parts of the region saw more rain in 12 hours than they normally get in all of October. The downpour caused widespread flooding and mudslides, leaving 10 people dead.

    Heavy rain over weekend

    Torrential rain pummeled areas of Chiba and Fukushima prefectures that had not yet recovered from earlier damage caused by Typhoon Hagibis. More than 200 millimeters of rain fell over a 12-hour period in some parts of Chiba, more than the average for the month of October.

    Rader analysis of Chiba rainfall
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    Nineteen rivers in the prefecture overflowed, inundating roads and residential areas. The downpours also triggered landslides. Many residents said they were surprised the floodwaters rose so quickly.

    This video shows the speed of the flooding. A vehicle is halfway submerged in about one hour, with the water short-circuiting its lights. One and a half hours later, it is completely under water.

    Dangers of driving in heavy rain

    Of the ten people who died in Chiba and Fukushima, five were killed in their cars while trying to travel. This highlights the danger of getting inside a vehicle in heavy rain.

    81-year-old Jinichi Suzuki was inside a truck in Chonan, Chiba. The vehicle is said to have flooded around noon on Friday, leaving him with no way out.

    A woman who spotted Suzuki's truck heading toward floodwater says she shouted at him not to go any further. When he went anyway, she immediately alerted emergency authorities. It took about seven hours for his body to be retrieved. Rescuers say it was tied by rope to a door handle. Suzuki is believed to have tied himself to the vehicle so he wouldn't be washed away.

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    Jinichi Suzuki was found dead near his truck.

    When a vehicle floods

    When water reaches a height between 30 to 50 centimeters, the car engine will come to a halt. At 50 centimeters or more of water, the car will be lifted off its wheels and it can be washed away. At this stage, the water pressure inside and outside the car increases and the doors cannot be opened, making escape impossible.

    Rescue efforts

    Search operations are continuing for missing people in Chiba and Fukushima. Authorities say at least 500 homes were destroyed or flooded in Chiba, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Saitama prefectures. They are still trying to learn the extent of the damage.

    Many residents in the areas ravaged by the typhoon and rain say they can't help worrying and feeling anxious about their lives.

    "I wonder if I can keep living like this," one woman says. "I keep getting hit by natural disasters."

    Heavy rain hits eastern Japan (01:43)