Torrential rainfall floods southern Japan; at least 15 dead

Torrential rainfall has resulted in heavy flooding in parts of southern Japan. Several residential areas were inundated.

More than  75,000 people were asked to evacuate in Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures. At least 15 people are feared dead and nine registered missing.

The Kuma River breached its banks in at least 10 places cutting off homes, washing away roads and bridges. Images showed cars and houses flooded in muddy waters. People were forced to climb higher structures, waiting to be rescued.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that heavy torrential rains would continue until Sunday. Close to 10,000 self defense personnel would join the rescue operation, Abe added.

Hundreds of people took temporary refuge at evacuation shelters.

Flooding also cut off power and communication lines. About 8,000 homes in Kumamoto and neighboring Kagoshima were without electricity, according to the Kyushu Electric Power Co.

About 4 inches of rain fell per hour in parts of Kumamoto.

Weather watchers expect heavy rains to continue increasing flooding in low-lying areas until Wednesday. With the rains strong winds and lightening strikes are also expected.