15 dead, 50 reported missing as heavy floods hit Japan

Local residents anxiously look on as rescue workers help other residents evacuate on a boat in Saka Hiroshima Prefecture

Local residents anxiously look on as rescue workers help other residents evacuate on a boat in Saka Hiroshima Prefecture

The orders were also issued in parts of the Osaka area hit by an natural disaster last month that may have weakened the ground, making landslides more likely.

These prefectures include those in the Kansai region, including Osaka, which is still reeling from a powerful natural disaster that hit the area in June.

Heavy rainfall continued in wide areas of Japan on Friday, leaving a man dead and four others missing due to landslides and swollen rivers in western prefectures.

Local authorities said a man in his late 50s has been pronounced dead after being found in an inundated river in Hiroshima Prefecture.

A 59-year-old construction worker died in the western prefecture of Hyogo after being sucked into a drainage pipe, and two more were injured as they rushed to his rescue, NHK national television said. Several more people were missing, including one whose vehicle was swept away as he delivered milk in the early morning hours, NHK national television said.

In the same area, however, a teenage boy was washed away in an irrigation canal, according to local media reports.

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The special warning is issued when the amount of rain is expected to be the highest in decades.

The downpours temporarily halted bullet train services in western Japan, which resumed on Friday.

Referring to the threat of landslides and damaging winds, the Japan Meteorological Agency told reporters, "Severe caution is needed".

The two deaths were on the main island of Honshu, according to Reuters.

Rivers from Hokkaido to Kyushu have been reported as running at above flood warning levels and the weather agency has warned of further landslides possibly being triggered by the record-levels of rainfall. In the 24-hour period through 6 a.m. on Sunday, 300 millimeters of rain is forecast in the Shikoku and northern Kyushu regions, 250 mm in the southern Kyushu and Tokai regions, and 200 mm in the Chugoku, Kinki and Hokuriku regions.

The landslides were reported in the city of Higashihiroshima, while police in the town of Kaita in the prefecture said they had received emergency calls from people saying they were trapped in cars in flooded areas, or they witnessed people being washed away in swollen rivers.

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