18 dead as heavy rain lashes southern Japan

Heavy rains in southern Japan left 18 people dead, while 14 were missing, as flooding and mudslides trapped some residents, a Kumamoto prefectural government official said on Sunday.

The torrent caused the Kuma River to break its banks at multiple locations early Saturday, leading to severe flood damage, Kyodo newswire reported. Evacuations were ordered in some areas.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Saturday that 10,000 Self-Defense Force personnel would be mobilised for rescue efforts centering in Kumamoto, which is on Kyushu, one of Japan’s main islands.

Damage to major factories in Kumamoto and neighbouring prefectures had not been reported.

Sony Corp. said Saturday its plants in rain-hit areas including Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Nagasaki and Oita, were operating normally.

Oji Paper Co. said its factory in the city of Yatsushiro, Kumamoto, was shut Saturday, but hadn’t suffered damage from the rain.