7 killed due to flash floods in southwestern Japan

Tokyo: Seven people were killed and four missing due to massive flooding triggered by torrential rain in the southwestern Japanese prefectures of Kumamoto and Kagoshima on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported citing local media.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) raised heavy rain warnings in many parts of the prefectures to the highest level on Saturday morning, the first time it has issued such high alerts for the two prefectures.

According to the agency, Amakusa in Kumamoto Prefecture received record precipitation of 98 mm per hour.

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About 203,200 residents in the two prefectures were asked to take shelter. In 17 municipalities in Kumamoto, 109 shelters were opened to house at least 871 evacuees.

Due to extensive flooding along the Kuma River in Kumamoto, the prefectural government asked for the dispatch of Ground Self-Defense Force personnel for disaster relief work.

Rescuers struggled to reach the hard-hit areas along the river which broke its banks at several locations on early Saturday.

Shinkansen bullet train services in the prefectures have also been suspended, Kyushu Railway Co. said.

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