JAPAN: Four Days' Rain

For four days and four nights, it had rained in Kyushu. A swirling, kingdom-come downpour streamed down the mountain spine to the narrow coastal plain, spilling out the tiny rivers into a torrent of yellow foam; it took the huts and the houses, the roads and the railroads, the bridges and the viaducts; it brought down landslides to crush the upland villages. Countless thousands were marooned on islands of high ground, perched in quivering treetops, watching and fearful as the mud-churning waters flowed past. Rubbing her prayer beads, an old lady said: "I have lived a long time, but...

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