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7 dead in flood-ravaged southwest Japan as rescue operations continue

5 July 2020 10:12

KUMAMOTO. KAZINFORM Seven people have been confirmed dead and at least 15 others may have also lost their lives in the flood-ravaged southwestern Japan prefecture of Kumamoto as rescue operations continued on Sunday.

Rescuers struggled to reach hard-hit areas along the Kuma River which broke its banks at several locations after torrential rain struck the area early Saturday, causing massive flooding, Kyodo reports.

Five people were confirmed dead in the Kumamoto Prefecture town of Ashikita in addition to a man in the neighboring town of Tsunagi, local officials said. One fatality was confirmed earlier in Ashikita.

At least nine people remain missing and some residents in the prefecture's central and southern parts, including in the cities of Yatsushiro and Hitoyoshi, became isolated after floods and mudslides cut off roads and swept away buildings.

In the village of Kuma, about 50 people were rescued from the flood-hit Senjuen nursing home Sunday, the prefectural government said. A day earlier, 14 others were found showing no vital signs but have yet to be officially declared as fatalities.

Ground Self-Defense Force personnel have been dispatched to the region as part of relief efforts. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said around 10,000 SDF personnel will be mobilized.

The flood-ravaged village of Kuma, Kumamoto Prefecture, on July 5, 2020. (Kyodo)

A rain front began bringing downpours to the region between late Friday and early Saturday. The Japan Meteorological Agency issued an evacuation order for a total of 203,200 residents in Kumamoto and neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture where more than 100 shelters were set up.

Some 5,880 homes in Kumamoto and Kagoshima were without power as of Sunday morning, according to Kyushu Electric Power Co.