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Heavy rain hits Kyushu, 7 reported missing as rivers overflow

Torrential rain hit the northern part of the main island of
Kyushu in western Japan on Wednesday, causing river floods and
mudslides and leaving at least seven people in Fukuoka and Oita
prefectures reportedly unaccounted for.

Some houses are feared washed away and dozens of people are
stranded while hundreds of thousands of people were ordered to
evacuate their homes and seek shelter in the affected area, including
around 306,500 people in Fukuoka's Kurume.

Six of the people unaccounted for include a child and are feared
to have been washed away or buried alive, according to Fukuoka
police. They also include a man in his 70s missing in Asakura,
Fukuoka, the city government said. Asakura has been one of the
hardest hit by Wednesday's floods, with precipitation reaching a
record 513 millimeters over a 24-hour period through the evening.

The seventh person reportedly unaccounted for is a man in Hita,
Oita, according to the city government.

The Japan Meteorological Agency urged "utmost vigilance" in wide
areas of Fukuoka and neighboring Oita, saying the heavy rain could
bring a once-in-decades disaster.

The rain disrupted traffic and left some 2,400 households in
Asakura and its vicinity without power. Asakura city issued
evacuation orders for 54,000 residents.

The city government asked the Japan Self-Defense Forces for help
as around 50 people were stranded at an elementary school in a
flooded area.

In Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed the government to
make utmost efforts to ascertain the degree of damage and rescue
people needing help.

"A river has overflowed and houses are flooded, I don't know
where the river or a road is," said Hiromichi Hayashi, a delivery
company operator in Asakura. The 61-year-old man said an acquaintance
was almost buried by a mudslide.

Heavy rain could hit a wider part of western Japan through
Thursday, the weather agency warned.

Aside from Asakura, particularly strong rain was observed in
Tosu in neighboring Saga Prefecture and Hita in Oita, with per-hour
rainfall hitting around 110 to 120 mm.

In Hita, the Ohi River flooded, leaving at least five people
isolated while in Nakatsu in Oita, a major road was blocked by a
fallen tree. In Fukuoka's Toho village, three houses were reportedly
washed away, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a hastily
called news conference.

Heavy rain also hit other parts of western Japan on Wednesday. A
man's body was found in a river in Hiroshima and local police believe
he was swept away as the river level rose due to the torrential rain
that pummeled Shimane and Hiroshima prefectures.

The Shimane government urged 20,000 residents in 9,200
households to evacuate their homes.

The rain caused some schools in Shimane to cancel classes
Wednesday and disrupted some train services in the two prefectures.

The city of Hamada in Shimane facing the Sea of Japan saw hourly
precipitation of over 80 mm Wednesday morning as a seasonal rain
front brought in wet air from the East China Sea, causing a strip of
storm clouds to develop, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
(July 5)

Photo taken July 5, 2017, shows a flooded road with fallen rocks in Hita in Oita Prefecture, southwestern Japan, after torrential rain hit the Kyushu region. (Kyodo)