Dozens dead after floods and mudslides in southern Japan

Tens of thousands of defence troops have been helping the rescue effort in the country's Kumamoto region.

Dozens dead after floods and mudslides in southern Japan
Dozens dead after floods and mudslides in southern Japan

At least 34 people have been confirmed or presumed dead after flooding in southern Japan.

Rescue workers, including more than 40,000 defence troops, have been trying to help survivors escape their homes in the country's Kumamoto region.

But the deep floodwaters and the risk of more mudslides have made search and rescue operations extremely difficult.

More than 200,000 people had been advised to leave their homes ahead of the flooding, but many chose to remain, worried about catching coronavirus at the region's 109 shelters, even though officials insisted they were safe.

Some were forced onto the rooftops of houses, waving to rescuers for help after the Kuma River burst its banks and started to rise, bringing mudslides crashing into buildings.

Fourteen residents of an elderly care home were among those presumed dead after rescuers reached them during the weekend.

At one point, 65 residents and 30 caregivers were trapped at the riverside facility. Most were rescued by boat and are now recovering in hospital.

Shigemitsu Sakoda, a local rafting company operator who joined the rescue effort at the nursing home, told Japanese broadcaster NHK that they had smashed the windows with a hammer to get inside.



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Soldiers had gone onto the roof in the search for survivors but Mr Sakoda said: "Unfortunately, some of the residents could not make it to the second floor."

Haruka Yamada, who lives in Ashikita, told Kyodo News that nearby houses were already flooded when she woke up to the sound of rain around 4am.

"I saw large trees and parts of houses being washed away and heard them crashing into something. The air is filled with the smell of leaking gas and sewage."

In Hitoyoshi City, on the island of Kyushu, a 55-year-old woman told the Asahi newspaper how the water poured into houses, saying: "The water rose to the second floor so fast and I just couldn't stop shivering."

She said she and her family swam out of a window and took refuge on the roof of their home before being rescued.

Nearly 6,000 homes in Kumamoto are without electricity, according to the Kyushu Electric Power Company, but the rainfall - which had peaked at more than 100mm per hour - has subsided.

Mudslide warnings, however, remain.


Sky News