Heavy rains trigger floods and mudslides in southern Japan
Heavy rains in southern Japan have triggered flooding and mudslides, killing at least two people, while more than a dozen are missing and many others stranded on rooftops waiting to be rescued, officials said on Saturday.
More than 75,000 residents in the southern prefectures of Kumamoto and Kagoshima were asked to evacuate following pounding rains overnight. The evacuation is not mandatory and it was not known how many actually fled.
Footage from broadcaster NHK showed large areas of Hitoyoshi town in Kumamoto inundated in muddy waters that gushed out from the Kuma River. Many cars were flooded up to their windows and houses partly submerged.
Mudslides smashed into houses and floodwaters carried trunks from uprooted trees. NHK said at least 13 people were reported missing.
Kumamoto officials say they were still assessing the extent of the damage.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set up a task force, promising to do their utmost for the emergency response and aid in the rescue of those missing.
The Japan Meteorological Agency earlier issued warnings of “extraordinary rain” in parts of Kumamoto, about 1,000km (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo.
It later downgraded them as rainfall, estimated at 100mm (4 inches) an hour at one stage.