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Japan braces for more rain after floods and landslides

Two million people were advised to urgently seek shelter as rivers overflowed.

A woman makes her way through heavy rain in Fukuoka, western Japan
A woman makes her way through heavy rain in Fukuoka, western Japan
Image: PA

JAPAN IS BRACING for downpours today as rescuers sift through flood and landslide damage after record rain that has left at least three dead.

Residents returned to check on their mud-covered homes in the southwest, where nearly two million people were advised to urgently seek shelter yesterday as rivers overflowed.

“So many logs tumbled down and crashed into this area” from nearby mountains, an elderly resident of Kanzaki in Saga prefecture told public broadcaster NHK.

“It was so, so scary,” she said. “You absolutely have to leave when it rains.”

More than a metre of rain has been recorded since Wednesday in the northern part of Kyushu, one of the places hardest hit by a band of intense wet weather stretching across Japan.

Showers had eased in the region today, with the weather agency downgrading alerts from the top level, but more rain is expected from the evening.

“We have not started to survey human or property damage on a full scale,” said Hironori Fujiki, a city official in Kyushu’s Nagasaki prefecture.

“We have yet to see an entire picture of the disaster,” he told AFP.

Two women in their 70s were confirmed dead after they were found in a drainage canal, Fujiki said.

It came after a 59-year-old woman died in a landslide that swept away her house in Unzen, Nagasaki, on Friday.

Rescue workers are still combing the wreckage for two of her family members.

Images showed aviation teams in Saga winching people to safety from homes surrounded by muddy water.

Landslides were also seen in other parts of Japan, with three people including a child under 10 feared dead after a family home was engulfed in central Nagano region, a local official told AFP on Sunday.

Scientists say climate change is intensifying the risk of heavy rain in Japan and elsewhere, because a warmer atmosphere holds more water.

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Strong rain last month caused a devastating landslide in the central resort town of Atami that killed 23 people, with four still missing.

And in 2018, floods and landslides killed more than 200 people in western Japan during the country’s annual rainy season.

Ryuta Kurora, director of forecasts at Japan’s weather agency, warned that the record rainfall will have loosened the soil in some areas.

“We ask residents to continue to exercise serious caution for landslides,” he said in a televised press briefing.

© Agence France-Presse

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