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  • Japan floods

media captionHeavy rain in Kumamoto prefecture in Kyushu, southern Japan, has led to severe flooding

At least 16 people have died and a dozen are missing on Japan's southern island of Kyushu as unprecedented rains cause flooding and landslides.

Fourteen victims were found in one nursing home which was inundated after a nearby river broke its banks.

The authorities have ordered more than 200,000 to evacuate and 10,000 soldiers are being sent to help rescuers.

Rainfall eased during the day on Sunday, but more is forecast to hit in the region on Sunday night.

The number of fatalities is expected to rise, with national broadcaster NHK reporting another 20 people in a state of "cardio-respiratory arrest" – a term used in Japan before a doctor officially certifies death.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged residents to be on "maximum alert".

The prefectures of Kumamoto and Kagoshima have been worst hit.

image copyrightAFPimage captionThe Kuma river burst its banks

Footage shows a bridge over the Kuma river washed away, with other pictures of submerged cars and houses.

Japan's Meteorological Agency said such rainfall had never been seen before in the region.

One woman who sought refuge at an evacuation centre said she had never imagined rain could be so powerful, while another said she could feel the vibrations of the churning water from a nearby river

Haruka Yamada, who lives in Ashikita in Kumamoto prefecture, told Kyodo: "I saw large trees and parts of houses being washed away and heard them crashing into something. The air is filled with the smell of leaking gas and sewage."

NHK says there are reports that eight homes in the town's Takinoue district were washed away.