Image: Mud on city street
AFP-Getty Images
Residents remove mud Monday after flooding in Nanto, Japan. Heavy rain set off powerful floods and mudslides across central Japan.
updated 7/28/2008 1:25:58 PM ET 2008-07-28T17:25:58

Four people died Monday in central Japan after being swept away in torrential rains that caused floods and mudslides and prompted an evacuation order for 50,000 people, officials said.

A woman, two girls and a boy were found dead after being washed away by a swollen river in the port city of Kobe, about 270 miles west of Tokyo, said an official in the city's fire department who asked that his name be withheld according to department policy. He said three others were rescued in serious condition.

In the city of Kanazawa, about 180 miles northwest of Tokyo, heavy rain flooded houses and led authorities to issue a mass evacuation order, said Hiroyuki Tatsuda, a city spokesman.

"We were inundated in just a couple hours this morning," Tatsuda said. "We haven't had such heavy rain for years."

The city issued an evacuation order for 50,000 people, but lifted it by midmorning Monday after the rain subsided, Tatsuda said. More than 800 people had taken refuge at community centers. City officials were still assessing the extent of damage to houses and buildings.

The flooding also temporarily left 500 households without electricity and caused train delays.

In nearby Toyama prefecture (state), a 53-year-old man was seriously injured after being covered by a mudslide while driving near a tunnel, local police official Shinichi Tomiya said. The man suffered a broken leg, arm, rib and shoulder but was conscious when he was later dug from the mud and taken to a nearby hospital.

More than 4 inches of rain fell in the region in about two hours, the nation's weather agency said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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