Tokyo: Tens of thousands of rescue workers in Japan 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.
At least 37 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.
“Rescue workers are tirelessly continuing the search this morning, ” a spokesman for the western Kumamoto prefecture said, with at least 13 people still unaccounted for.
Although the rain has subsided from its peak levels, the floods washed away roads and bridges, leaving many in isolated communities cut off.
A local firefighter in the western region of Kagoshima said they had deployed boats to rescue 11 people but that conditions were making it hard to reach some of the people stranded.
“Calls came from people telling us that they wanted to flee their home but they could not do it on their own, ” he said.
In one of the hardest-hit areas, residents spelled the words “rice, water, SOS” on the ground, while others waved towels and called for rescue and relief goods.
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.
Heavy rain is expected to continue through today afternoon and the Japan Meteorological Agency issued a non-compulsory evacuation order for hundreds of thousands of residents in Kumamoto and neighbouring Kagoshima Prefecture. — AFP
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