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Japan Floods Force Thousands To Leave Homes

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At least four people are reported to have died, and 15 more are missing after parts of south-west Japan were hit by flooding.

Soldiers have been deployed to help residents, after some cities experienced 507mm (1.8 feet) of rain in less than 24 hours.

The BBC's Mariko Oi says the rain fall is "unprecedented".

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About 250,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes to avoid floods caused by torrential rainfall in south-west Japan, officials say.

More than 75cm (30in) of rain fell in 72 hours in the city of Aso, in Kumamoto prefecture, according to weather officials quoted by the French news agency AFP.


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Landslides leave 22 dead, 5000 stranded in Japan

MORE than 5000 people have been cut off by landslides as more heavy rain and floods are forecast in southwestern Japan, where the death toll from torrential downpours has risen to 22. Television footage today showed troops loading relief material such as food, water and medical supplies into military helicopters to send them to mountainous areas in Yame, Fukuoka prefecture in northern Kyushu island.


Local authorities were separately dispatching rescue helicopters to take patients and elderly villagers to hospital from the isolated area, where at least one person was killed, officials said. More than 5400 people have been shut away since late yesterday as landslides and fallen trees have cut roads and water supplies in the region, where unprecedented rainfall has fallen since Wednesday. "We will continue sending emergency rations to people there as it is still unknown when we can secure access to the area," said Kayo Shinohara, a spokeswoman for Yame City government. "We are trying to do our best to remove rubble as soon as possible," the spokeswoman told AFP by phone.


Rescue operations resumed early today in other affected areas in Kyushu, where at least eight people were still missing after 22 people were confirmed dead in the landslides or floods, officials said. Public broadcaster NHK showed rescuers continuing their search, using heavy machinery to remove uprooted trees, boulders and debris, while residents were scooping mud out of houses with shovels. Some 3600 people remaining were ordered or advised to leave their homes in southwest Japan, NHK said, after local authorities lifted similar advice to some 400,000 others by this morning.

The weather eased somewhat on today bringing temporary relief, but the Japan Meteorological Agency warned of more heavy rain, landslides and floods on Kyushu. "A peak of heavy rain in northern Kyushu has passed, but there is fear that driving rain with thunder may hit northern Kyushu," the agency said.


Rainfall up to 81.7cm has been recorded in Aso, which is at the foot of a volcano, where at least 18 people were killed and four others were still missing. Heavy rainfall was also monitored in Kyoto, some 500km east of the affected areas in Kyushu, today, flooding more than 20 houses, news reports said. About 20 people were temporarily trapped in the city as muddy stream broke a river bank following rainfall of nine centimetres per hour, but they were later rescued safely, the reports added.



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Waterfall-like rain eases in southwest Japan, but 27 dead, thousands of homes damaged

TOKYO — Most of the quarter-million people forced to flee massive flooding in south-west Japan were able to return home by Monday, but weather officials warned the danger had not fully passed from the record rainfall that left at least 27 people dead over the weekend. Thousands of homes and hundreds of roads were damaged, and hundreds of landslides were reported. The military airlifted food by helicopter to stranded districts.

The rain “was like a waterfall,†Yoko Yoshika said in Yamaguchi prefecture (state). “It was horrible.†Yoshika, wife of an award-winning Hagi-yaki style potter, said workers scrambled to carry out a bucket relay with plastic pails to get rid of the water flowing into their shop. In Yame, a city of 69,000 in Fukuoka prefecture, 74 people in three separate areas were stranded by the flooding.

“Our region gets hit with heavy rain every year, but I have never experienced anything like this,†city employee Kumi Takesue said. “Rice paddies and roads all became water so you couldn’t tell what was what,†she said, adding that she had to wade in knee-high water, even near her home, which was not as hard hit as other areas.

Killed in Yame city were Katsutoshi Matsumoto, a 70-year-old who died when caught in a landslide while he was out looking at his rice paddies, and Shinobu Fueta, 83, whose home was buried in mud. Weather officials warned people to be careful even in areas where rain had subsided because the land was still mushy and prone to landslides. Rain could start again later Monday, further endangering the area, they said.

Even as some of the water subsided, homes and farms on the southern island of Kyushu, hardest hit by the downpour, were still getting food shipments, although mostly by land, local officials said. Kyodo News service said 27 people were dead and police were still searching for five missing people in the three prefectures of Kumamoto, Oita and Fukuoka. Nationwide tallies of the dead and missing were not immediately available. The rain was concentrated in certain spots in a sprawling region of southern Japan, extending as far north as the ancient capital of Kyoto, where rainfall exceeded 90 millimeters (3.5 inches) per hour — a condition in which rain cascades down in such torrents that seeing ahead becomes impossible.

Evacuation orders were gradually being lifted, allowing most to return home by late Sunday. Fukuoka prefecture said that as of Monday, damage there extended to more than 4,300 homes, 800 roads and 20 bridges. At least 518 landslides were recorded, and more than 2,700 people had evacuated their homes, it said in a statement.


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