Japan floods: Almost 3 million people to evacuate their homes

The authorities say nearly 7,000 buildings may have been flood-damaged in Joso alone.

Local residents check a collapsed embankment following the floods from their residence in the city of Joso, Ibaraki prefecture on September 12, 2015. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Japanese authorities have advised almost 3 million people to evacuate their homes after heavy flooding this week killed three people and left 16 people missing in the eastern region.

The authorities say nearly 7,000 buildings may have been flood-damaged in Joso alone.

Rescue operations continued in Joso city, one of the worst-hit areas, although floodwaters are receding.

CNN's Will Ripley in Joso city said, "There are two operations that we've been following very closely, one is in the air and there are a number of helicopters that have been up searching for people. This is a massive operation, it will continue they say until all of the missing are accounted for. And then there is a question about what the people who live here will do next."

Meanwhile, search teams using boats and helicopters resumed looking for at least 16 people still missing after torrential rain and flooding across Japan this week.

Floods swept houses off their foundations and crushed others under landslides after rivers burst their banks following days of rain. Kyodo News agency said three people were killed and 27 injured in the floods.

Reuters photographers saw a helicopter rescue a local resident from an area flooded by the Kinugawa river as soldiers in boats paddled along streets that had been turned into rivers, searching for survivors.

In the worst-hit city of Joso, northern Japan, there were still 15 people missing, Kyodo reported. About 4,800 residents of the city were still waiting to return home, it said.

Flood waters were slowly retreating in the city but the residents could spend days before returning to their homes as the floods had damaged a wide area and it remain uncertain when electricity and other utilities will be restored.

One person was missing in Miyagi prefecture, whose coastline was ravaged by the 11 March, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that killed nearly 20,000.