(UPDATE 3) Heavy Rain in Japan’s Northern Kyushu Leaves 1 Dead, 3 Missing

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Collapsed houses are seen in Karatsu, Saga Prefecture, on Monday.

A series of linear precipitation bands brought heavy rainfall to Fukuoka, Oita and Saga prefectures Monday morning, as the nation’s rainy season rumbles on. The Japan Meteorological Agency subsequently issued a special heavy rainfall warning for eight municipalities in Fukuoka and Oita prefectures.

Landslides have occurred in multiple areas, with one person confirmed dead in Soeda, Fukuoka Prefecture, and three people unaccounted for in Karatsu, Saga Prefecture. Several rivers have flooded and the agency is urging maximum caution.

The special warning, issued at 6:40 a.m., pertained to Asakura, Toho, Kurume, Yame, Ukiha and Soeda in Fukuoka Prefecture, and Hita and Nakatsu in Oita Prefecture. The warning corresponds to alert level 5 — the highest level of danger. It is the first time for the agency to issue such a warning since August 2021 for Fukuoka Prefecture and July 2017 for Oita Prefecture.

In Soeda, Fukuoka Prefecture, a woman died after a landslide occurred behind her home, causing soil and sand to flow into the residence. In Karatsu, Saga Prefecture, two homes were inundated with earth and sand, while contact has been lost with two men from one building and an elderly woman in another.

According to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, five rivers under national management — including the Koishiwara River in Fukuoka Prefecture and the Jobaru River in Saga Prefecture — overflowed at around 8 a.m. on Monday.

The Ono River also flooded in Hita, Oita Prefecture, and there have been reports of residents in Suzure, Tono and Motoe becoming isolated. A total of 473 individuals are thought to live in 211 households in these areas, but as yet, it us unknown how many people have been cut off.

Transportation also has been impacted. Operations have been temporarily suspended in both directions between Hiroshima and Hakata Station on the Sanyo Shinkansen line, and between Hakata and Kumamoto Station on the Kyushu Shinkansen line. Delays and suspensions have also been reported on local lines.

Record-high rainfalls have been registered in northern Kyushu since Sunday, and precipitation levels hit all-time highs in the 12-hour period to 9 a.m. Monday in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture (332 mm) and Soeda (331.5 mm). Saga City and Nakatsu in Oita Prefecture, meanwhile, logged 249 mm and 231.5 mm, respectively.

The agency held an emergency press conference just after 7:30 a.m. on Monday, with the person in charge saying, “If evacuation seems too dangerous, please move to a spot where inundation seems less likely.” The official added that special warnings could be issued for other areas, too. “Please ensure your own personal safety without waiting for an announcement,” he said.

Heavy rains have been forecast in northern Kyushu to Hokuriku through Tuesday. Some 200 mm of rain could fall in the 24-hour period to 6 a.m. Tuesday in northern Kyushu, with Chugoku seeing 100 mm and Hokuriku 80 mm.

Fukuoka wants GSDF help

Fukuoka Gov. Seitaro Hattori requested on Monday that disaster rescue teams from the Self-Defense Forces aid the prefecture’s rescue efforts.

Hattori wants the Ground SDF to send personnel to an isolated area of Kurume after seven residential buildings in the city were engulfed by landslides.

The safety of several residents remains unknown.