TOKYO, July 4, 2012 (AFP) - Torrential rain pounded southwestern Japan on Wednesday amid fears of landslides as police and rescuers searched for a man missing in a flooded river, a local official said.
The heavy rain, which caused rivers to burst their banks and flooded properties, led to local authorities in southwestern Oita prefecture advising more than 17,000 people to evacuate, the official said. A 76-year-old man was missing after apparently falling into the swollen Yamakunigawa river in the prefecture, with hundreds of police officers and rescuers deployed for the search, he said. The Japan Meteorological Agency warned of an increasing risk of landslides in the northern part of Kyushu island, where a large amount of rain has already fallen over the past several days. The agency, which also warned of the possibility of tornadoes, said it expected up to 20 centimetres (eight inches) of rain in the region during the 24 hours to 6 pm (0900 GMT) on Wednesday.