TOKYO - Heavy rain in Japan triggered floods and mudslides that swallowed houses and destroyed roads, with at least 12 people killed and 11 missing since the start of the rainy season.

The rain has also been devastating in the neighboring Korean peninsula. At least 150 people there are believed dead or missing, mostly in the impoverished communist North, according to officials and aid workers Wednesday.

From western to central Japan, residents evacuated houses for shelters as muddy water swamped city streets and mudslides tore up highways.

The weather temporarily caused Shinkansen bullet trains to stop as the weather agency warned of more to come.

"We believed we were living on firm ground. So this is very shocking," a middle-aged woman told Fuji television after a landslide in central Fukui prefecture.

As much as 500 millimeters (20 inches) of rain has drenched parts of Japan since Saturday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Heavy rain was expected to continue from western to central Japan with "continued risks of serious disasters," an agency advisory said. "Strong caution is needed for landslides and rising rivers causing floods."

Five people died in central Nagano prefecture including a 75-year-old man whose body was found inside a house that was shoved back some 50 meters (160 feet) by a flash flood, officials were quoted by Kyodo news agency as saying.

At least six others went missing in the mountainous province including one rescuer. Nagano authorities piled sandbags to protect residential areas after banks of the major Tenryu river collapsed.

In western Shimane prefecture, a 15-year-old was found dead on flooded farmland after he fled for shelter with his grandparents, police said. "We are yet to learn the whereabouts of his grandparents," a local police officer said.

Rescuers in Shimane also dug an unconscious 69-year-old woman out of her house that was levelled by a mudslide. She was declared dead as paramedics transported her to a hospital, police said.

Her 67-year-old husband managed to dig himself out shortly after the mudslide with only minor injuries.

A 66-year-old man at Yamanashi near Mount Fuji died after falling into a swollen river, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

One mudslide -- which stretched 60 meters wide -- plunged for some 30 meters to destroy the house in Fukui prefecture of a man who went missing along with his 75-year-old mother. A body thought to be the mother was later found, according to police and prefectural officials.

The mudslide also hit a liquefied petroleum gas storage tank, causing a leak that forced an evacuation.

An 80-year-old woman was also found dead after a mudslide buried her house in Okayama prefecture, Kyodo said.

The disaster agency said two other people had died since the rainy season began last month, with one of them buried by a mudslide in late June and the other falling into an irrigation system earlier this month.

Thirty-two people have been injured, four of them seriously, the agency said. Sections of highways were closed by mudslides or cave-ins.

Eleven people remained unaccounted for across Japan, according to the agency.