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Flash floods stain Singapore's reputation as urban paradise

A worker stes up pumps to take away water from a basement carpark after flooding occured in low lying areas after heavy rain, in Singapore on July 18, 2010.Death toll rises to 10 after heavy rains in Japan. Photo courtesy AFP.
Tokyo (AFP) July 18, 2010 - The death toll caused by heavy rains in Japan rose to 10 Sunday after a body was found on a riverbank. The 26 year-old man was found along the Kiso river in Gifu prefecture in central Japan. He went missing Thursday as torrential rain poured over the region, flooding streets and causing deadly mudslides, police said. Flash floods and mudslides gushed through central and western Japan from Wednesday, destroying homes and sweeping away vehicles.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan visited the region to meet families affected by floods, emergency workers and local politicians, while rescue workers continued to look for several people who were still missing. "I was reminded of the importance of disaster mitigation and our ability to predict" damages, Kan told reporters after visiting local residents. Japan's Self-Defense Forces have used helicopters and boats to aid residents trapped in flooded homes. Large areas of farmland and some towns have been under water for days. Last year 25 people died in the same region after rains triggered flash floods and landslides, including one that devastated a retirement home.
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) July 18, 2010
Singaporeans were salvaging cars, soaked belongings and damaged goods on Sunday after a third flash flood in two months submerged low-lying areas of the city-state.

Shops and houses along posh Orchard Road were again hit by floods on Saturday after heavy rain overwhelmed the drainage system of the wealthy metropolis, which is often lauded for its excellent urban management.

The flooding took place just before parliament was to debate the issue on Monday following public clamour for explanations for earlier floods, which are normally associated with neighbouring capitals like Manila and Jakarta.

Residents in affected houses hauled out sodden furniture and opened windows and doors on Sunday after muddy water from overflowing canals receded.

"We never had floods like that," said Peter Wong, 49, a long-time resident in a row of houses in eastern Singapore invaded by calf-high floodwaters on Saturday.

"Everything was gone, the carpets as you can see are damaged, the bottom of all the sofa seats are still soaking wet now, after 24 hours. We had to replace a new fridge, the fridge is totally damaged," Wong told AFP.

"I'm trying to keep a cool head over this but it is frustrating. My life is disrupted," added the hotelier, who failed to take out insurance against "acts of God" like floods.

The Straits Times said some restaurants lost live fish stored in tanks.

A major highway was also closed for two and a half hours, while motorists and commuters had to be rescued from stranded vehicles, but there were no reports of major injuries.

Saturday's flash floods were the third since June 16.

Flash floods were a rare occurence in Singapore until recently, with a climate expert interviewed by the Straits Times attributing the problem to regional weather phenomena such as Typhoon Conson and Indonesian squalls.

Critics had blasted the Public Utilities Board (PUB) for not being prepared to handle the first two floods, while the department defending itself by saying abnormal weather conditions and clogged drains were to blame.

The flooding issue has become so serious that the Singapore parliament is scheduled to address the problem when it convenes on Monday amid forecasts of more rain.

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146 dead in China rainstorms and floods: state media
Beijing (AFP) July 16, 2010
Torrential rain and severe flooding have left at least 146 people dead and 40 missing in ten Chinese provinces, mostly along the Yangtze River following recent storms, state media said Friday. The Xinhua news agency said that as of 4:00pm (0800 GMT) Friday, rain-triggered floods had affected some 38.2 million people and 1.3 million had been evacuated. The latest toll is near 40 percent ... read more

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