A pedestrian walks through heavy rain in Kirishima, southwestern Japan on July 3 2019. Picture: VIA REUTERS/KYODO
A pedestrian walks through heavy rain in Kirishima, southwestern Japan on July 3 2019. Picture: VIA REUTERS/KYODO

Tokyo — Japan ordered more than 1-million people on the southern-most island of Kyushu to take shelter in evacuation centres and other safe areas on Wednesday as heavy rain threatened to trigger widespread landslides.

Some parts of southern Kyushu have received up to 1,000mm of rain since Friday, about as much as usually falls in the whole month of July, Japanese broadcaster NHK said, and forecasters expect as much as 300mm more rainfall in some areas by Thursday evening.

Evacuation orders were issued for 1.02-million residents of Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures at the southern tip of Kyushu, NHK said. Some 930,000 more were advised to evacuate, but no data was immediately available about how many had actually done so.

“I live alone next to a river, and it’s scary to think of water rising,” one woman in an evacuation centre told NHK. Another said the volume of rain that had fallen was “terrible”.

Television footage showed rivers filled with fast-moving brown water, but none had overflowed their banks as of Wednesday evening, although one low dike had broken.

Several small landslides were reported, including one that swept away two cars. No injuries have been reported so far.

In Tokyo, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo said residents should “take steps to protect their lives, including early evacuation”, and he ordered the military to prepare for rescue operations.

Abe was criticised for the government’s slow response in July 2018, when heavy rains triggered landslides and floods, killing more than 200 people in Japan’s worst weather disaster in 36 years. 

Reuters