Rains ease in southern Japan but residents warned of landslide risks

The entire population of the cities of Kagoshima, Amakusa and Ira on the island of Kyushu, almost 760,000 people, were directed on Wednesday to evacuate their homes.

Another 310,000 residents of the island were advised to find shelter, Kyodo News reported.

Kagoshima issued the evacuation order to its roughly 606,800 citizens, as heavy rain is expected to persist until Thursday morning.

One woman died earlier this week due to a landslide in Kagoshima city, according to government officials. Residents were asked to immediately take refuge in schools and municipal institutions located on higher ground.

Kagoshima, in Kagoshima prefecture, on the island of Kyushu, saw record-setting rainfall, with more than 460 millimeters (18.1 inches) in just 24 hours.

Torrential rain continued to pound parts of southwestern Japan on Wednesday, prompting authorities to instruct over 1 million residents in Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures to evacuate ahead of more downpours that could trigger floods and mudslides.

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

Heavy rain was forecast to continue into Thursday, Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The heavy rain is expected to hang over the entire Japanese archipelago until Saturday.

By 4pm local time (8am GMT) yesterday, the country's Fire and Disaster Management Agency reportedly said fewer than 4,000 people had been evacuated. The agency said that it may issue an emergency warning, used for weather events that occur only once every several decades, if extremely intense rain continues for several hours in the same areas.

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.

  • Sonia Alvarado