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'Once in half a century' torrential rain lashes Okinawa island of Yonaguni

This image from real-time radar from the Ministry of Land Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism's Center for Providing Disaster Management Information shows rainfall over part of Okinawa Prefecture on the morning of May 13, 2019. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a heavy rain and flood warning for the island of Yonaguni in Japan's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa on May 13, saying that the town was being lashed with rainfall on a scale seen only every 50 years.

The agency called for residents to be on their guard against landslides and flooding in low-lying areas as a result of the rain brought by a stationary front.

According to the Ishigaki Local Meteorological Observatory, the area near Yonaguni Airport recorded 276.5 millimeters of rain over the three-hour period from 6:10 a.m. on May 13 -- the heaviest since statistics started being collected in 2003. Over a one-hour period, the amount of rain reached 109.5 millimeters -- the highest ever recorded in May.

The town of Yonagumi set up a headquarters for disaster countermeasures, and issued an evacuation advisory for the entire island at 9 a.m. The town government said that as of noon, two people from separate households had evacuated.

It is believed that some homes were flooded and that several roads in the town were cut off by flooding, and officials are trying to check the damage. A report also said that part of a river flowing through the town had overflowed.

A town official that spoke to the Mainichi Shimbun by telephone said that torrential rain on an unprecedented level began falling at about 4 a.m. on May 13.

The local meteorological observatory said that 120 millimeters of rain was expected over the area in the 24-hour period through noon on May 14.

(Japanese original by Kenta Somatani and Tadashi Sano, Kyushu News Department)

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