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Saturday, July 04, 2020, 17:59
Japan evacuates thousands as rains lash southern Kyushu
By Reuters
Saturday, July 04, 2020, 17:59 By Reuters

Areas are inundated in muddy waters that gushed out from the Kuma River in Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto prefecture, southwestern Japan, July 4, 2020. (PHOTO / KYODO NEWS VIA AP)

TOKYO - Japan asked thousands of people to evacuate their homes on its southern island of Kyushu, media said on Saturday, following unprecedented torrential rains in which 15 people are feared dead and nine missing.

The flooding of the Kuma River in the region had cut off homes and washed away a bridge, said national broadcaster NHK

Japan is sending thousands of troops to join rescue operations to Kyushu, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Saturday.

With the region facing the risk of further floods and landslides, authorities told 92,200 households in the prefectures of Kumamoto and Kagoshima to vacate their homes, the Kyodo news agency said.

"The heavy rainfall is likely to continue until Sunday, and people in the area are required to be on maximum alert," Abe said, adding that as many as 10,000 soldiers would be sent to join the rescue operations.

ALSO READ: Record rain in south Japan brings flood chaos, kills at least 2

A man looks at the overflowing Kuma river caused by heavy rain in Yatsushiro, Kumamoto prefecture on July 4, 2020. (STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP)

The flooding of the Kuma River in the region had cut off homes and washed away a bridge, said national broadcaster NHK, which displayed television footage of houses and cars inundated by muddy waters.

NHK said the 15 feared dead included 14 who suffered cardiac arrest at an elderly home in Kumamoto that was submerged by rising waters, citing the governor of the prefecture.

Nine more were missing, it added, with one of the injured in a serious condition.

Japan's Meteorological Agency downgraded its alert from the highest level it had initially posted to warn against floods and landslides triggered by the rain never seen before in the region, the broadcaster said.

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