Japanese officials warned that a “grave disaster” may occur as heavy downpour continues. Nearly 70,000 people were asked to evacuate in the Hiroshima prefecture.
“There is a possibility that a grave disaster will occur” in the coming days, a Japan Meteorological Agency official said.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said one person was presumed dead, while another was able to talk as rescue workers tried to free them. Two others remain missing.
Highest risk alerts in Hiroshima
The heaviest rainfall was in the western prefecture of Hiroshima, where non-compulsory evacuation orders were issued to at least 69,500 people.
The Japan Meteorological Agency issued the highest level 5 risk alerts in Hiroshima, adding that downpours are forecast to continue for several days over a large swathe of the country.
“We have issued a special heavy rain warning (in the city of Hiroshima). This is a level of heavy rain that we have never experienced before,” the JMA said in a statement.
The land ministry warned that water levels are extremely high in three rivers — two of which run through the Hiroshima region, while one in southern Kumamoto.
The NHK public broadcaster showed rivers in Hiroshima swollen with muddy water gushing down, almost overflowing. Meanwhile, water pumps were seen draining the swollen river water in the western prefecture of Fukuoka.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s office set up a disaster control center on Friday to handle potential disasters. “Torrential rains could continue in regions around western Japan,” Suga said.
The news of the devastation in Japan comes as officials in neighboring China report at least 21 casualties in its central Hubei province. Extreme rainfall has wreaked havoc and killed hundreds of people in the region.
More than 300 people were killed in central China last month after record downpours dumped a year’s worth of rain on a city in three days.