Record levels of rain in Japan force 1 million people to evacuate

By AKIKO KASHIWAGI AND JENNIFER HASSAN | The Washington Post | Published: July 3, 2019

TOKYO - More than 1 million residents across the island of Kyushu in southwestern Japan were ordered to evacuate on Wednesday amid torrential rains and warnings of severe flooding and landslides.

According to the latest weather forecast, the massive downpour, which has already brought record levels of rain over the last 72 hours, is set to intensify over the next 12 hours.

Japan's Meteorological Agency held an emergency news conference early Wednesday, local time, warning residents of several cities in the Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures to evacuate "to protect themselves" without delay.

Local media and government officials including Kagoshima Mayor Hiroyuki Mori warned locals of potential disasters and urged them to leave their homes.

"Disasters due to mudslides can happen anytime at multiple places simultaneously. Please take care of yourself and those who you care about to protect your and their lives," Mori said at the emergency news conference, while issuing an evacuation order to Kagoshima's 590,000 residents.

Satoshi Mitazono, the governor of Kagoshima, called on Japan's ground self-defense force to stand by in case of an emergency. Over the last few days in Kagoshima, the city had a volume of rainfall equivalent to the monthly average.

An estimated 600,000 people in the surrounding regions of Kagoshima and Miyazaki have also been instructed to leave their homes as the rainfall gets heavier. Almost 200 locations have been designated as evacuation centers for local residents and their families.

One woman, believed to have been in her 70s, was rescued after a mudslide hit her home in Kagoshima but was later confirmed to have died.

In July 2018, up to 70 inches of rain led to some of Japan's worst flooding on record with over 2 million people forced to leave their homes. More than 200 people lost their lives in floods and landslides, according to official government figures. Around 10,000 houses were destroyed, according to an estimate from the World Meteorological Organization.

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Kashiwagi reported from Tokyo.

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