Death toll in Japan floods rises to 25
TOKYO — The death toll from torrential rains and flooding that swept through Japan’s south has reached 25, the government said on Tuesday, as rescue teams battled through thick mud to save more than 100 still stranded.
Further downpours were predicted to pound Kyushu after swathes of the southwestern island were devastated last week by overflowing rivers — sweeping away roads, houses and schools and forcing thousands of people into makeshift shelters.
But many remain stranded, with emergency services struggling to reach them amid treacherous conditions.
About 150 people were still cut off as of Monday evening in hardest-hit Fukuoka and Oita prefectures, according to local government officials.
Twenty-five people have died while at least 25 remain unaccounted for, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Tuesday.
Some 12,000 rescuers were making “utmost” efforts to find survivors and clear washed up driftwood hampering the search, Suga said.
Asakura city in the west- ern prefecture of Fukuoka, one of the hardest-hit regions, has started accepting applications for disaster victim financial aid, local authorities said Tuesday.
Many houses were completely washed away in the city as rivers breached their banks and others swamped by mud or leveled by landslides following the record amount of rainfall that battered the region.
Those with damaged homes are eligible to claim financial aid once they have received a disaster victim certificate, authorities said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe canceled a visit to Estonia that was originally planned as a last leg of his European tour, which included the G20 Summit in Germany, to come back to Tokyo on Tuesday afternoon to deal with the disaster.
“We will move forward with clearing debris and restoring roads and other infrastructure, devoting every effort to securing places for people to live and getting their lives back in order as soon as possible,” Abe was quoted as telling a meeting of ministers on Tuesday.
Abe will visit Fukuoka and Oita prefectures on Wednesday to talk to staff at shelters and local government officials, Suga said.
More than 500 millimeters of rain deluged parts of Kyushu over just 12 hours last week, while rains have continued intermittently since.
Japan’s weather agency on Tuesday warned of continued heavy rains in Kyushu.
Local residents try to remove muddy home electrical appliances from a damaged house in Asakura, Fukuoka, on Sunday.