Japan on alert for landslides as heavy rains hit the south

TOKYO: Fears of landslides and floods put the south on high alert on Thursday due to heavy rains that ravaged the region, prompting authorities to order more than a million people to evacuate.

Despite the orders, only 3,000 people were in shelters in the region on Thursday morning, according to an official count.

The rains come a year after torrential rains in western Japan that killed more than 200 people in floods and landslides.

So far, a woman was killed by the rains that started over the weekend, after her house was buried in a landslide. Several injuries have been reported along with small landslides that have buried cars.

More than one million people in Kagoshima remained under evacuation order on Thursday morning, and additional orders were issued along with lower level evacuation notices.

The television images showed that the cars were swept away by the floods and rivers that broke their banks in Kagoshima.

In an evacuation center in the region, the elderly residents sat on the floor to eat, with bedding and other belongings scattered around them.

The evacuation order is issued when it is very likely that a natural disaster will occur and municipalities repeatedly urge residents to leave their homes, although instruction is often ignored.

It is the most serious warning issued before a disaster occurs. The highest level of the scale is activated once a disaster is declared and orders people to take measures to protect their lives.

He has warned that landslides that threaten life are possible.

Heavy rains moved northwest on Thursday and are expected to bring rain to the center and to Japan in the coming days.

Kagoshima Satoshi Mitazono said in a message on Wednesday to residents that the situation was extremely dangerous.

It could happen anywhere, at any time, he said, adding that he had requested the help of the military.

Japanese authorities are urging people to take refuge early after the heavy catastrophic rains last summer in the west of the country that killed more than 200 people.

Many of the deaths were attributed to the fact that the evacuation orders were issued too late and some people did not hear them. Entire neighborhoods were buried under landslides or submerged in flood waters during disasters.