1st LD Writethru: Highest alert level, evacuation orders issued as southwestern Japan pounded by torrential rain

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TOKYO, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- At lease two people have been killed and others found without vital signs as Japan's weather agency on Wednesday issued its highest-level landslide and flood alerts owing to regions in southwestern Japan being pummeled by torrential rain.

"It's highly likely that some sort of disasters such as landslides or flooding may have already occurred, especially in areas with mudslide warnings or in other hazardous places expected to be inundated," Yasushi Kajihara, forecast division director at the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

"These areas are under alert Level 5, which requires people to take immediate action to protect their lives," Kajihara said.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the emergency alerts were issued for the prefectures of Fukuoka, Saga and Nagasaki prefectures in the northern Kyushu region, with evacuation orders and advisories being issued to around 1.7 million people, according to Japan's public broadcaster NHK.

Local police in the the city of Takeo in Saga Prefecture said a man was killed after being found in his vehicle after it was swept away on a road by floodwaters. A man who was found without vital signs after he escaped from his flooded car in Fukuoka Prefecture, was later pronounced dead, local police also confirmed.

A woman in Saga was found without vital signs after her vehicle was discovered submerged in a ditch, local police reported.

Meanwhile, rescue officials said they have received hundreds of emergency phone calls from people trapped in cars or unable to evacuate from buildings due to the flooding.

The Ushizu River in the cities of Ogi and Taku and the Matsuura River in Imari both burst their banks, local media reported, as landslides occurred, leading Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi calling on Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to be dispatched to spearhead disaster operations.

In Saga, along with a number of vehicles being submerged, the main JR Saga Station has been flooded, according to media footage, and across the three hardest-hit prefectures, Kyushu Railway Co. has been forced to cancel some of its services.

In Saga and Taku cities, the weather agency said that 120 millimeters of rain was recorded in a one-hour period.

For northern Kyushu, 200 mm of rain has been forecast by the weather agency and 180 mm in both the Kanto-Koshin area, which includes Tokyo, and the Tokai region, for the 24 hours through 6:00 a.m. local time on Thursday.

The JMA said it expects downpours to inundate regions covering wide swathes from western to northern parts of Japan's archipelago, saying the special warnings were issued because of a low atmospheric pressure system in the Sea of Japan moving along a northeasterly trajectory. Enditem

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