Japan battered by heavy rain, floods, nearly 60 dead

Heavyrains that already caused deadly floods in southern Japan was moving northeast Wednesday, battering large areas of Japan's main island, swelling more rivers, triggering mudslides and destroying houses and roads, reports AP. 

 At least 58 people have died in several days of flooding. 

 Footage on NHK television showed a swollen river gouging into the embankment, destroying a highway, while in the city of Gero, the rising river was flowing just below a bridge.

As of Wednesday morning, the death toll from the heavy rains starting over the weekend had risen to 58, most of them from the hardest-hit Kumamoto prefecture. Four others were found in Fukuoka, another prefecture on Kyushu, Japan's third-largest island. 

Across the country, about 3.6 million people were advised to evacuate, although evacuation is not mandatory and the number of people who actually took shelter was not provided.Rain subsided by Wednesday afternoon in many areas, where residents were busy cleaning up their homes and work places. 

Though the rains were causing fresh flooding threats in central Japan, flooding was still affecting the southern region. 

And search and rescue operations continued in Kumamoto, where 14 people are still missing. 

Tens of thousands of army troops, police and other rescue workers mobilized from around the country to assist, and the rescue operations have been hampered by the rains, flooding, mudslides and disrupted communications. 

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga urged residents to use caution. "Disasters may happen even with little rain where grounds have loosened from previous rainfalls," he said. 

Suga pledged continuing search and rescue effort, as well as the government:s emergency funds for the affected areas. 

Japan is at high risk of heavy rain in early summer when wet and warm air from the East China Sea flows into a seasonal rain front above the country. In July 2018, more than 200 people, about half of them in Hiroshima, died from heavy rain and flooding in southwestern Japan.