Hundreds of thousands ordered to evacuate after heavy rain hits Japan
Hundreds of thousands of people in southwestern Japan have been ordered to evacuate their homes as torrential rain continues to hit the region.
Authorities issued an emergency alert Wednesday, warning of mudslides, flooding and swollen rivers in Fukuoka, Saga and Nagasaki prefectures in Kyushu island. The agency initially issued its highest level alert, known as a level five, but later downgraded it to a level four.
A total of 870,000 people living in the area have been ordered to evacuate, as of 3:30 p.m., local time Wednesday.
The heavy rain, which started on Tuesday, has seen some areas hit by more than 100 mm (4 inches) of rainfall in an hour, public broadcaster NHK said. More rainfall is expected throughout Wednesday, according to the country’s Meteorological Agency.
An elderly man was found dead after his car was washed away by floodwater in Takeo city, Sage Prefecture, Wednesday, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, while two more people were seriously injured.
Images from NHK showed that Saga city, located in Saga Prefecture, was inundated with floodwaters on Wednesday morning.
JR Kyushu, the national railway operator in the area, also announced that it has suspended and delayed train services on several lines due to heavy rain, according to a statement posted on its official website.
In a regular press conference on Tuesday, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga urged residents to pay attention to government updates on the heavy rain and flooding “to protect their own lives.”
In July, more than a million people on the Kyushu island received evacuation orders after it was hit with nearly a month’s worth of rain in a single day, killing one woman in Kagoshima city. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe subsequently deployed 14,000 staff from the Japanese Defense Forces to assist emergency responders.