Another death as heavy rains prompt evacuations in Japan

Tokyo (AFP) –


Torrential rains killed one woman and caused flooding and landslides in southern Japan on Thursday, authorities said, as they began lifting evacuation orders that had been in place for over one million people.

The woman's death, confirmed after she was reported missing earlier Thursday, means two people died in the heavy rains that started over the weekend and inundated parts of southern Japan.

As the worst of the rains moved north, authorities began lifting evacuation orders -- but nearly 800,000 people in the Kagoshima were still affected.

Despite that, just 2,300 people were in shelters in the Kagoshima region on Thursday afternoon, an official tally showed.

The rains come a year after torrential downpours in western Japan killed over 200 people in flooding and landslides.

Both deaths in the latest rains came when landslides buried the homes of the victims. Several injuries have also been reported along with small landslides that have buried cars.

About 793,000 people in Kagoshima remained under evacuation order on Thursday afternoon with more facing lower-level evacuation advisories.

The order is issued when a natural disaster is highly likely to occur and municipalities repeatedly urge residents to leave their homes -- although the instruction is frequently ignored.

It is the most serious warning issued before a disaster actually occurs. The scale's highest level is activated once a disaster is declared and orders people to take measures to protect their lives.

The front was moving northeast Thursday and forecast to bring downpours to central and eastern Japan in coming days.

Japanese authorities are urging people to take shelter early after last summer's deadly rains.

Many of the deaths were blamed on the fact that evacuation orders were issued too late and some people failed to heed them. Entire neighbourhoods were buried beneath landslides or submerged in flood waters during the disasters.