Kunigami firefighters rescue group of stranded Americans
A group of 18 Americans was stranded on a hiking trail close to Ta Waterfall in Ogimi Village, Sunday afternoon, after a flash flood of Henan River cut their return path.
Heavy rain in the area caused the river to overflow and cut off the trail leading to the waterfall that is a popular hiking destination for locals and visitors alike.
Firemen from the Kunigami District Firefighting headquarters rescued all of the stranded people by 19:00 the same day. No one in the group that included both adults and children was injured in the ordeal. Kunigami experienced heavy rain since Sunday morning, and Okinawa Metrological Observatory had issued a heavy rain warning to Nago and Kunigami areas.
According to Kunigami Firefighting Headquarters, officials at Kadena Air Base requested assistance to rescue a dozen of persons who had been stranded on the trail. Four of the 18 people in the group had managed to get back to the entrance of the walking trail by themselves, but another 14 of them, including two infants and three underage children had been stranded about 500 meters up the trail.
The rescue team dispatched to the scene tied a rope along the trail across the swollen river, and helped the stranded people one by one to safety.
Seiya Shimabukuro from the Kunigami fire department said that his crew is called to rescue stranded people along the path and Henan River at least once a year. Two men were rescued along the trail at last year, and 41 people needed assistance in 2012.