Unprecedented rainfall pounded southwestern Japan causing floods and landslides. Eighteen people died and at least eight were missing as heavy rain hit southwestern Japan, particularly in the country’s southernmost main island of Kyushu, police and firefighters said Friday. The Japan Meteorological Agency reports that rainfall in parts of Kumamoto and Oita prefectures reached levels “never experienced before.” Searches for the missing were under way amid swollen rivers and landslides. About 48,000 people were ordered to flee the city of Kumamoto. Blackouts hit thousands of homes and transportation infrastructure suffered disruption.
Hardest hit was Minamiaso in Kumamoto Prefecture, where landslides buried houses. The weather agency warned that heavy rainfall of 70 millimeters per hour could hit the northern Kyushu region from the early hours of Friday. There was recorded 507 mm (20 inches) of rainfall in 24 hours.
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