Japan evacuates 1.1 million, fearing landslides

A pedestrian walks through heavy rain in Kirishima Kagoshima Prefecture southwestern Japan

Kagoshima city, Kirishima and Aira, in Kagoshima prefecture on Kyushu island, urged their residents to move to safety immediately.

All 590,000 residents of the city of Kagoshima were told to evacuate and were seen filling evacuation shelters.

According to NHK TV, an elderly woman died in the city of Kagoshima when one of the landslides crushed her home before she could leave.

Torrential rains have created risky conditions in southwestern Japan, prompting evacuation orders for more than 1.1 million people in the Kyushu region, according to state broadcaster NHK News.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to "do our best for rescue and lifesaving activities".

Ryuta Kurora, the agency's chief forecaster, said likely areas to be affected were around Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures.

Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono requested the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces amid heightened risks of a major disaster.

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About 900 mm (35.4 inches) of rain has fallen on the southernmost main island of Kyushu, where Kagoshima is located, since late June, NHK said.

Reportedly a month's worth of rain could hit parts of Kyushu in just 24 hours.

Rescuers work on the rooftop of the house damaged by a landslide in Soo, Kagoshima prefecture, western Japan, Thursday, July 4, 2019.

"There is an imminent danger of landslide disasters and river floods, which are potentially life-threatening", the city said in the order.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said the directive was issued in three southern prefectures. Some areas have already surpassed record rainfall levels, and with more rain in the forecast, the ground could simply give way, Japan's weather agency says. The rain also has flooded dozens of homes.

This might not be the end of flooding problems for Japan as moisture from Tropical Storm Mun may be pulled across the country next Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing another round of torrential rainfall.

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