Heavy rainfall in Japan causes mudslide, threatens floods

TOKYO (AP) — Torrential rain pounding southwestern Japan triggered a mudslide early Friday that swallowed four people and was threatening to cause flooding and more landslides in the region.

The mudslide in the city of Unzen in Nagasaki prefecture hit two houses with four residents total. A woman in her 50s was pronounced dead, while a man in his 60s was seriously injured, according to Unzen city officials. Rescue workers were searching for the two other residents.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued heavy rain and mudslide warnings in parts of the southern main island of Kyushu. Earlier warnings for Hiroshima in western Japan, where record rainfall fell earlier this week, were downgraded as rains subsided.

Television footage on NHK public broadcaster showed rivers swollen with muddy water gushing down, almost overflowing, in Hiroshima.

The meteorological agency said nearly 500 millimeters (20 inches) of rain fell in parts of Nagasaki in the past 48 hours, exceeding the average for the month of August. More downpours were forecast.

Local authorities issued evacuation advisories to high-risk areas in those regions, affecting more than 3 million residents, but the measure is non-compulsory and a fraction usually evacuate.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called a disaster management meeting and pledged to do the utmost for the rescue and relief operation and support for the affected residents.

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