japan mudslide
Residents clear silt from a road following flooding in the city of Kurume, Fukuoka prefecture, on July 10, 2023, after heavy rains hit wide areas of Kyushu island. Image Credit: AFP

Tokyo: Torrential rain pounded southwestern Japan, triggering floods and mudslides and leaving two people dead and at least six others missing, officials said Monday.

Rain falling in the regions of Kyushu and Chugoku since the weekend caused flooding along many rivers, triggered mudslides, closed roads, disrupted trains and cut the water supply in some areas.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued an emergency heavy rain warning for Fukuoka and Oita prefectures on the southern main island of Kyushu, urging residents in riverside and hillside areas to take maximum caution. More than 1.7 million residents in vulnerable areas were urged to take shelter. The emergency warning was downgraded later Monday to a regular warning.

japan floods
This aerial image shows debris spread across a large area after a neighbourhood was hit by flooding in the city of Kurume, Fukuoka prefecture on July 10, 2023, after heavy rains hit wide areas of Kyushu island. Image Credit: AFP

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is scheduled to attend a July 11-12 NATO summit in Lithuania, said he will make a final decision on whether to go after assessing the extent of damage Tuesday morning. “Either way, we will do our utmost to respond to the disaster by putting people’s lives first,” he said.

Two people died and at least six others were missing, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency and prefectural officials.

A man was found dead in a vehicle that fell into a swollen river in Yamaguchi prefecture. In the town of Soeda in Fukuoka prefecture, two people were buried by a mudslide. One was rescued alive but the other died, according to prefectural officials.

In Kurume, also in Fukuoka, a mudslide hit seven houses, burying 21 people. Six were able to escape on their own. Rescue workers extracted nine people alive and were working to remove five others, but one remained missing, according to the disaster agency.

Toyota Motor Corp. suspended night-time production at three Fukuoka factories on Monday as a safety precaution. Normal production was expected to resume on Tuesday.

In the city of Karatsu in Saga prefecture, rescue workers were searching for three people whose houses were hit by a mudslide, the agency said. Video on NHK public television showed one of the destroyed houses reduced to just a roof sitting on the muddy ground amid flowing floodwaters.

At least three other people were missing elsewhere in the region.

NHK showed water from the swollen Yamakuni River gushing over a bridge in the town of Yabakei in Oita prefecture.