A car submerged in floodwaters in Japan PA Images

Japan orders more than 1 million people to evacuate their homes after two die in heavy rain

Two men were killed in their cars during heavy flooding.

TWO PEOPLE HAVE been killed following heavy rains in southwest Japan, prompting flood and landslide warnings and orders for 670,000 people to seek safety.

Nearly a million more people were advised to leave their homes after the country’s weather agency raised the alert to its highest level for parts of northern Kyushu.

The emergency warning is issued “if there is a significant likelihood of catastrophes”.

Officials confirmed the two deaths, one of which occurred in the western Saga prefecture, where a man was found in a car that had been swept away.

A second man died in Fukuoka as he tried to escape from a car trapped in rising floodwaters.

Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said that a third person, also in Saga, was in a state of “cardiorespiratory arrest” – a term usually employed by Japanese officials to indicate a person’s death before it has been officially confirmed by a doctor.

“There are many reports of damage in different areas due to flooding of rivers, landslides, and submerged houses, and there is a possibility of serious damage occurring in the coming hours,” Suga added.

japan-heavy-rain AP / PA Images AP / PA Images / PA Images

The fire and disaster management agency said it had already received multiple reports of flooded houses in Saga and Nagasaki.

“We are seeing unprecedented levels of heavy rains in cities where we issued special warnings,” a spokesman for the Japan Meteorological Agency told reporters.

“It is a situation where you should do your best to protect your lives,” weather agency official Yasushi Kajiwara said.

Television footage showed rivers swollen by the rain and parked cars sitting in muddy brown water nearly up to the vehicles’ roofs.

Small landslides have already been reported.

Japanese authorities regularly urge people to take evacuation orders seriously, particularly after heavy rains last summer in the west of the country killed more than 200 people.

Many of the deaths were blamed on the fact that evacuation orders were issued too late and some people failed to follow them.

Entire neighbourhoods were buried beneath landslides or submerged in floodwaters during the disasters.

- © AFP 2019

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