TOKYO (AP) -- Troops were working Thursday to rescue families left stranded by flooding in southern Japan. At least two people were found dead and more than a dozen missing in flooding that wrecked homes, roads and rice terraces.
Heavy rain warnings were in effect for much of the southern main island of Kyushu after Typhoon Nanmadol swept across Japan earlier in the week.
Authorities in Fukuoka, in Kyushu, said four people suffered slight injuries. Hideki Tanaka, a Fukuoka prefectural disaster management official, said there were at least two unconfirmed reports of deaths. He said six others were missing and feared dead after they were swept by floodwater or buried underneath mudslides.
In neighboring Oita prefecture, where rivers also overflowed, one man who was dug up from a mudslide was pronounced dead, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that 20 people were still unaccounted for in the region as of Thursday afternoon. He said that thousands of troops were mobilized for search and rescue operations.
Hundreds of people were also trapped in areas isolated by the floodwater, Kyodo News reported.
In one of the worst-hit towns, Asakura in Fukuoka, one man managed a narrow escape when a landslide crushed his home on a steep mountain slope, NHK said.
Television footage showed rice fields and homes flooded after a river swollen by the rains overflowed its banks, dragging vehicles into the riverbed and destroying dozens of buildings as well as roads and bridges. Soldiers waded gingerly through floodwaters, carrying one elderly man to safety, and they were evacuating families using inflatable boats.
Many broken trees washed down from mountains were floating in flooded fields or blocking roads. Homes were without electricity, trains were suspended and parts of highways closed. Classes at dozens of schools, including those used as shelters, were canceled Thursday.
Nearly 600,000 people were ordered or advised to evacuate in Fukuoka, but only a fraction of them did, in part because the heavy rain worsened during the night. Only about 1,800 people had sought refuge in schools and other public facilities as of early Thursday, according to the prefecture's disaster management website. In Oita, more than 270,000 people were subject for evacuation.
Japan's Meteorological Agency said Fukuoka and Oita were experiencing unprecedented amounts of rain.