By Helene Fung
75,000 residents in western Japan have been ordered to evacuate on Saturday, due to record heavy rainfall overnight causing floods and landslides. Many have been left stranded on rooftops to escape the flood water, and 13 people have been listed as missing.
Japan’s weather agency issued the highest emergency level of heavy rain warnings to Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures on Kyushu Island, describing the level of rain as “never seen” before in the region.
Local television footage showed large areas swamped by muddy waters gushing from the Kuma River, cars submerged up to their windows and several bridges reportedly have been washed away.
Some train services in the region, including Shinkansen bullet train operations, have been suspended until further notice.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has set up a taskforce to deal with the disaster, and he said up to 10,000 members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces would deployed to help with disaster recovery.