Dozens feared dead in Japan flood as rains continue

Rescue workers in Japan on Monday combed through the wreckage of houses shattered by deadly floods and landslides in a desperate search for survivors as the death toll rose and more torrential rain loomed, news wires reported.

At least 40 people are feared dead after record rains lashed areas of western Japan in the early hours of Saturday, causing rivers to break banks and flooding low-lying regions. The floods washed away roads and bridges, leaving many in isolated communities cut off. In one of hardest-hit areas, residents spelled the words "rice, water, SOS" on the ground, while others waved towels and called for rescue and relief goods, AFP reported.

At a nursing home for the elderly, 14 people were feared dead when water from a nearby river inundated the ground floor, leaving those in wheelchairs unable to reach higher ground.

Emergency services, aided by locals in rafts, managed to rescue around 50 staff and residents from the facility, bringing them to safety by boat. Some 4,640 homes in Kumamoto Prefecture remained without power as of Monday morning.

Heavy rain is expected to continue through Tuesday afternoon and the Japan Meteorological Agency issued a non-compulsory evacuation order for hundreds of thousands of residents in Kumamoto and neighbouring Kagoshima Prefecture. Up to 250 millimetres of rain is expected in the 24-hour period through Tuesday morning in the southern part of Kyushu Island, which includes areas hit hard by the flooding, the agency said.

Evacuation efforts are being hampered by fears of spreading the coronavirus that has claimed almost 1,000 victims in Japan, with close to 20,000 cases. Partitions have been set up at evacuation centres to keep distance between families and evacuees are made to wash their hands frequently, sanitise and wear face masks.




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