One Killed as Heavy Rain Triggers Landslides in Japan

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Torrential rain over southwest Japan triggered landslides that killed at least one person, while three were missing, as authorities urged tens of thousands to leave their homes because of the danger of more landslides and floods.

Japan is the latest country to be hit by unusually heavy rain in various parts of the world in recent days that has raised new fears of the pace of climate change.

Rainwater rushes through a stream in Koishihara, Fukuoka prefecture, Japan on July 10, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a social media video. (Twitter @zXshun/via Reuters)

“The rain is becoming so heavy unlike anything seen before,” Satoshi Sugimoto, director of forecast division at Japan’s weather bureau the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), told a press conference.

A woman in her 70s was killed when a landslide hit her house in the Fukuoka prefecture, while three people were missing after a landslide hit two homes in Saga prefecture, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The highest-level heavy rain warning was issued in parts of the Fukuoka and Oita prefectures, on Kyushu island.

At least eight rivers had flooded their banks and dozens of mudslides had occurred, the land ministry said, in a region hit by rain that killed dozens of people in July 2017.

Authorities urged tens of thousands of residents to move out of areas in danger of more landslides and flooding, media reported.

Some parts of Fukuoka had received more than 500 mm of rain since Friday, more than usually falls in the whole of July, media reported, and another 200 mm is expected up to early Tuesday, Sugimoto said.

Toyota Motor Corp said it would suspend night-shift operations on Monday at three factories in Fukuoka due to the rain.

However, the weather had not affected production lines of Sony Group, Renesas Technology and Nissan Motor, the companies told Reuters.

Government spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno told at a regular press conference that 6,740 households were without power while 80 homes had no water, as of early Monday.

The Shinkansen bullet train service was suspended between Hiroshima and Fukuoka’s Hakata stations but resumed serviced by mid-morning.

People use their umbrellas to shelter from the rain as they walk through Shibuya district in Tokyo on June 2, 2023. (YUICHI YAMAZAKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the JMA said on Monday that there was a 90 percent chance the El Nino phenomenon will continue into the autumn.

El Nino is a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific.

El Nino for much of Japan has meant greater rainfall and snowfall.

According to JMA chief Masanori Obayashi, Japan should be prepared for more torrential rain this year throughout the rainy season, with above average downpours potentially lingering beyond the typical summer wet season.

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