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Thousands flee Japan’s floods

Soldiers searched for missing people in an area devastated by landslides caused by heavy rains Saturday in Aso city, on Japan’s southern main island of Kyushu.

REUTERS/Kyodo

Soldiers searched for missing people in an area devastated by landslides caused by heavy rains Saturday in Aso city, on Japan’s southern main island of Kyushu.

TOKYO — Record rains in southwestern Japan triggered landslides and flooding that killed at least 22 people, forced almost a quarter of a million to flee or seek higher ground, and disrupted transportation on the southern main island of ­Kyushu.

A record 20 inches of rain fell in 24 hours in Aso city, central Kyushu, and some parts of the island’s north got more rain Saturday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

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Five local railway lines on the island are stopped, while the high-speed mainline service resumed operation at 1:31 p.m., according to the website of Kyushu Railway Co.

Rivers in the region including the Yamakuni flooded, and people living nearby are ­advised to evacuate, public broadcaster NHK reported. At least 246,000 people in Kyushu have been ordered to leave, accord­ing to NHK.

Twenty-two people have been confirmed dead, and eight are missing in northern ­Kyushu, Yomiuri news reported.

Governor Katsusada Hirose of Oita requested assistance from Japan’s Ground Self-
Defense Forces after the ­Kagetsu river flooded in Hita city, Kyodo news said.

Residents were told to move to the second floor of their homes or move to shelters, said an advisory on Hita’s municipal website.

In China’s southwest province of Guizhou, rainstorms have left at least 11 people dead and damaged the homes of 980,000 people, the official ­Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday. Most of the deaths were caused by mountain torrents and landslides triggered by the rain, Xinhua said.

Heavy rain has also been hitting Europe hard.

The United Kingdom is slogging through some of the wettest conditions in recent history. Nearly every day seems to bring showers, sprinkles, drizzles, or downpours.

On Saturday, England’s ­Environment Agency said there were about 75 flood alerts and warnings across the country, includ­ing the western county of Shropshire. Rescue officials ­received a phone call from a Shropshire woman who found herself waist-deep in water overnight.

The county has seen flash floods almost every week as storms dump more water on the already-saturated ground.

The Times of London published an unusual plea Saturday for the rain to stop, a measure of Britons’ growing frustration with months of miserable weather.

‘‘Let us make our position crystal clear: We are against this weather,’’ The Time wrote in an editorial. “It must stop raining, and soon.’’

‘‘The British climate is supposed to be unpredictable,’’ it continued. ‘‘At the moment, it is anything but. If sustained sunshine is too much to ask for, most of us would settle for a little bit of fickle.’’

Britain’s Meteorological ­Office said the jet stream, the band of fast-moving wind that flows west to east across the ­Atlantic, is partly to blame for the run of foul weather.

The weather service said the jet stream generally runs north of Britain during the summer months, guiding unsettled weather systems away from the country. This year, it has stuck to the country’s south, leading to the wettest June on record.

In Krymsk, Russia, a wave more than 20 feet high flooded neighborhoods last week and left 172 people dead, according to the government’s count. More than 43,000 animals, mostly birds, were drowned in the town in southern Russia, not far from the Black Sea..

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