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Flooding, landslides in southwest Japan kill six

A house is inundated with mud following heavy rains in the city of Kumamoto in Japan on June 21, 2016. ©AFP

At least six people have died and one person is missing as landslides and floods hit Japan’s southwestern region, local media report.

Record-breaking rains hit a wide swathe of the island of Kyushu from Monday night to Tuesday morning, causing flooding and landslides.

NHK national news channel said on Wednesday that one university student was reported as missing.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been advised to evacuate Kyushu.

A couple in their 80s were among those killed after their house in the city of Kumamoto was engulfed by mud.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was reportedly in Kumamoto on Wednesday in order to begin his campaign for the upcoming election for the parliament’s upper house.

Photo shows police officers and firefighters during rescue operations following a landslide in the Japanese city of Kumamoto on June 21, 2016. ©AFP

Authorities warned that further landslides might hit the areas. The Japan Meteorological Agency said that heavy rains were also predicted to hit the country’s eastern regions and called on the locals to be on alert for flood and landslides.

In April, Kyushu was struck by 6.2-magnitude and 7.0 magnitude earthquakes and some 1,700 aftershocks that weakened the ground and left it prone to landslides.

Some 49 people died in the April earthquakes and thousands others were left homeless.

Earthquakes frequently happen in Japan; a massive one rocked the country in March 2011 and caused a devastating tsunami, which left more than 19,000 dead and missing.

The tsunami also crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and led to radioactive leakage. The nuclear crisis is considered the world’s worst since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

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