TOKYO - Japan is sending thousands of troops to join rescue operations on the southern island of Kyushu, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Saturday, as three people were reported badly injured and eight missing in unprecedented torrential rains.
Two people were found in a state of cardiac arrest and one was in serious condition from rains in Kumamoto prefecture, which threaten further floods and landslides, public broadcaster NHK said.
"The heavy rainfall is likely to continue until Sunday, and people in the area are required to be on the maximum alert," Abe said, adding that as many as 10,000 soldiers would be dispatched to the region.
Showing footage of houses and cars submerging in muddy water, NHK said flooding of the Kuma River was cutting off homes and had washed away a bridge.
Japan's Meteorological Agency downgraded its alert from the highest level it had initially posted to warn against floods and landslides triggered by the rain never seen before in the region, the broadcaster added.
More than 200,000 people in 92,200 households in Kumamoto and Kagoshima prefectures have been instructed to evacuate, Kyodo news agency said.