Authorities in southwestern Japan have instructed over 1.1 million residents to evacuate Wednesday as torrential rains continued, triggering flooding and mudslides.
Houses and fields were inundated after river dikes washed away in Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures, with Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force dispatching troops to affected areas at the request of Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono.
In the prefecture, a 33-year-old woman and her child reportedly suffered minor injuries as her vehicle was trapped by a mudslide in Shibushi, while an 80-year-old woman in Satsumasendai fell down and fractured her shoulder.
In the city of Kagoshima, where all 590,000 residents were told to evacuate, elderly people and others huddled in shelters to wait out the storm. Some evacuees in the neighboring prefecture's Kumamoto city were seen carrying their bedding to evacuation centers to spend the night.
The Japan Meteorological Agency has warned that heavy rains in southwestern and western Japan could continue for another day.
Holding an emergency press conference for the second straight day, the agency urged people to be on high alert, saying it might issue an emergency rain warning to Kagoshima and Kumamoto prefectures, which are expected to be especially hard-hit.
The same warning was issued last July when devastating rains in western Japan caused massive mudslides and floods, resulting in the deaths of over 200 people mostly in Hiroshima, Okayama and Ehime prefectures.
"The sound of the rain is so strong that it worries me," one evacuee said.
Kumiko Jufuku, a 77-year-old who lives alone in the city of Kagoshima, also said she fled her home as she grew worried about landslides. "I cannot walk well so I cannot survive if I'm struck by a disaster."
The heavy rain also disrupted sections of the Kyushu shinkansen bullet train line and forced over 150 schools to cancel classes.
In the 24 hours through 6 a.m. Thursday, the agency forecast up to 350 millimeters of rain in southern Kyushu, up to 300 mm in northern Kyushu, and up to 250 mm in the Shikoku region.
The Kinki region, covering Osaka, was forecast to get 150 mm of rain, while the Tokai region centered on Nagoya anticipated 120 mm. The Chugoku region around Hiroshima and the Hokuriku area facing the Sea of Japan were also expected to see heavy rainfall, according to the agency.
It said a rainy front is expected to stay over the Japanese archipelago through Saturday, and could also drench eastern Japan.