National

Torrential downpours continue to lash Kyushu

Kyodo

Heavy rain continued to lash Kyushu on Monday after stranding more than 300 people on a mountain on Yakushima island over the weekend.

The Meteorological Agency warned torrential rain may cause landslides and floods, and issued a caution on the threat of tornadoes and lightning strikes across Japan through Tuesday.

Rainfall in Miyazaki Prefecture from Friday to Monday morning exceeded 400 millimeters, with the city of Nichinan logging 81.5 mm per hour by 5 a.m. — a record for May.

On Sunday, 314 people descended the mountain on Yakushima island in Kagoshima Prefecture with the help of rescuers after rainfall of about 120 mm per hour caused a landslide, obstructing a hiking trail.

The hikers spent Saturday night stranded there as a rescue operation involving police, firefighters and Ground Self-Defense Force members only started Sunday due to the weather conditions. No one was in a serious condition, according to local officials.

Kagoshima Gov. Satoshi Mitazono on Monday visited the scene of the landslide on the island — a natural World Heritage site — and vowed to work for a swift recovery in a meeting with Yakushima Mayor Koji Araki, so that the town can soon start to welcome tourists again.

“We will swiftly handle the situation and dedicate all of our strength to the recovery of the area by working together” with Yakushima town, the governor said.

The island is known for its Jomon cedar tree and the 1,936-meter Mount Miyanoura, the highest peak of the Kyushu region.

According to the weather agency, some areas of western and eastern Japan are expected to see more than 50 mm of rain per hour through Tuesday.

In a 24-hour period through 6 a.m. Tuesday, rainfall of 200 mm is forecast in the Kinki and Shikoku regions.