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Weather agency warns of life-threatening rain in western Japan

People walk in the rain in Kagoshima, southwestern Japan, on July 2, 2019. The Japan Meteorological Agency forecasts heavy rainfall in the Kyushu region and wide areas of the country over the coming days. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Japan Meteorological Agency on Tuesday warned of torrential rain in western Japan in the coming days and urged people to evacuate early to protect themselves against life-threatening disasters.

The agency said the southwestern Japan region of Kyushu could receive 80 millimeters or more of rain per hour through Thursday, and the precipitation through Friday could eclipse that seen in western Japan last July, when floods and mudslides left more than 200 people dead.

"We want people to understand that a situation in which they have to protect their own lives is imminent," said Ryuta Kurora, a senior forecaster at the agency, in a hastily arranged press conference.

The Kyushu region is forecast to get 150 mm of rain in the 24 hours to Wednesday noon, 300 mm to 400 mm of rain in the following 24 hours, and the rain could continue through Friday, the agency said.

The Shikoku and Kinki regions are also expected to receive heavy rain.

The agency also warned of potential floods and mudslides, including deep-seated mudslides in which the bedrock layer of a mountain slopes collapses.

Heavy rain in western Japan forced Kyushu Railway Co. to temporarily suspend shinkansen bullet train service between Kumamoto and Kagoshima in the afternoon, while it caused delays between Hakata and Kumamoto.

A rainy front is expected to stay over western to eastern Japan through Friday, and some parts of western Japan could get a month's worth of rain in the 24 hours from Wednesday morning through Thursday, according to the agency.

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