Rain continues to lash Japan as public urged to remain on alert

© Kyodo News

Rain continued to fall over vast areas from western to northeastern Japan on Tuesday, disrupting transportation and business activities, with the public urged to remain vigilant over mudslides, flooding and swollen rivers due to the accumulated rainfall from last week.

The Japan Meteorological Agency alerted residents to possible heavy rain, wind gusts and lightning in the coming days, as a stationary front is expected to remain parked over the Japanese archipelago through Friday.

Heavy rain disrupted public transport in the southwestern region. Shinkansen bullet train services between Kumamoto and Kagoshima-Chuo stations and some local express trains were suspended from Tuesday morning, their operator Kyushu Railway Co. said.

Mazda Motor Corp. said Tuesday it has halted production at its plants in Hiroshima and Yamaguchi prefectures in western Japan due to downpours.

In the southwestern city of Unzen, Nagasaki Prefecture, around 200 rescue workers continued their search for two missing people in the morning after a mudslide struck a house last Friday, but they suspended work for several hours due to the risk of a secondary disaster, according to local authorities.

As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, a total of about 4,450 houses in 17 of Japan's 47 prefectures have been damaged due to the torrential rain, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

Some places in the southwestern Kyushu region including Mt. Unzen in Nagasaki Prefecture and the city of Ureshino in Saga Prefecture have seen precipitation of over 1,000 millimeters since Aug. 11, more than three times the amount of rain that usually falls in the entire month of August.

In the 24 hours through Wednesday morning, up to 250 mm of rainfall was forecast in Kyushu and the Shikoku region in western Japan, up to 200 mm in the Chugoku and Tokai areas in western and central Japan, and up to 180 mm in the Kinki region in western Japan.