Death toll rises to 50 in rain-hit southwestern Japan

Photo by the Kyodo. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

FUKUOKA, Jul 7, 2020, Kyodo. The death toll from torrential rain in southwestern Japan rose to at least 50 on Tuesday as the disaster-affected area expanded to include the northern part of Kyushu island, Kyodo News reported.

An 87-year-old woman was confirmed dead in Omuta, Fukuoka Prefecture, after being found at her inundated home, while two evacuation centers in the city that had taken in more than 200 people early Tuesday were flooded.

Kumamoto Prefecture, hit hard by the downpours on Saturday, has so far reported 49 people declared dead, four others found showing no vital signs and 11 others missing.

Search efforts for the missing continued although the initial 72-hour period considered critical for finding people alive has passed at many of the sites hit by landslides and floods in the prefecture.

People living in mountainous areas remained stranded with phone, electricity and water services cut. Local authorities are trying to transport them to evacuation centers.

The Chikugo River, the largest river in the Kyushu region, overflowed in Hita, Oita Prefecture, prompting a local meteorological observatory and the land ministry to issue the highest-level alert to residents in the morning.

Roughly 1.32 million people on Kyushu island have been instructed to evacuate over the rain, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

More rain is expected through Wednesday in wide areas from western to northeastern Japan as warm and humid air flows into the seasonal rain front stretching across the Japanese archipelago.

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