ASAKURA - Torrential rains battered southwestern Japan for a second day on Thursday, killing three people, with 100,000 ordered to evacuate their homes and while thousands of rescuers, some in helicopters, searched for survivors.

Parts of Fukuoka prefecture, on the island of Kyushu, were hit by 556 mm (22 inches) of rain in the 40 hours to 4 p.m. (0700 GMT) on Thursday, about 1.6 times the amount that usually falls in the whole of July, the weather agency said.

Television showed a military helicopter airlifting a stranded resident to safety and houses half submerged in murky water or destroyed by landslides.

“I heard this tremendous rumbling noise and then the house exploded. A tree burst through the wall into the room,” a sodden, dishevelled man told public broadcaster NHK after his house was hit by a landslide.

Three people had been killed, three were in “cardiopulmonary arrest” and eight were injured, NHK reported.