Japan struggles to restore water supply as temperatures soar

HIT BY FLOODING: Local residents try to clear mud and debris from a house at a flood-affected area in Mabi town July 13 in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, Japan. Issei Kato/Reuters

KURASHIKI, Japan – Municipal workers in Japan struggled on Friday to restore the water supply in the flood-hit western region a week after inundation caused by a record downpour killed more than 200 people in the worst weather disaster in 36 years.

Communities that grappled with rising floodwaters last week now find themselves battling scorching summer temperatures well above 30 degrees Celsius (86 F), as foul-smelling garbage piles up in mud-splattered streets.

"We need the water supply back," said Hiroshi Oka, 40, a resident helping to clean up the Mabi district in one of the hardest-hit areas, the city of Kurashiki, where more than 200,000 households have gone without water for a week.

"What we are getting is a thin stream of water, and we can't flush toilets or wash our hands," he added, standing over a 20-liter (4.4-gallon) plastic tank that was only partly filled after almost four hours of waiting.

Water supply has been restored to some parts of the district, a city official told Reuters, but he did not know when normal operation would resume, as engineers are still trying to locate water pipeline ruptures.

The soaring temperatures have fueled concern that residents, many still in temporary evacuation centers, may suffer heat strokes or illness as hygiene levels deteriorate.

Public broadcaster NHK has spread advice on coping with high temperatures and maintaining hygiene, such as a video tutorial on how to make a diaper from a towel and plastic shopping bag.