Japan flood death toll up to 68, PM visits

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has visited southwest Japan where flooding has killed at least 68 people.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has visited southwest Japan where flooding has killed at least 68 people.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has travelled to the southwestern prefecture of Kumamoto, where record-breaking rains have sparked landslides and flooding, killing dozens of residents.

Abe on Monday paid tribute to 14 victims at a nursing home in Kuma Village, the area which suffered extensive flood damage after heavy rain on July 4 had caused the Kuma River to overflow.

Abe, who was wearing a face mask due to COVID-19 concerns, told Kumamoto Governor Ikuo Kabashima that the government would "put all its efforts" into the early recovery of state roads and the Kuma River.

The death toll from the downpours on the island of Kyushu climbed to 68, including 64 in Kumamoto, while troops and emergency workers continued to search for 12 others who remained missing.

Residents and volunteers have spent days cleaning up homes and offices, although occasional heavy rains have suspended their work.

Since July 4, torrential rains caused a total of 316 landslides, including 56 in Kumamoto and 44 in Kagoshima prefecture, while 105 rivers overflowed, according to a government survey.

Almost 14,000 houses were flooded or damaged on Kyushu and western and central Japan, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

The Japan Meteorological Agency expected a seasonal rainy front to dump more rain on Kyushu and other parts of the country, warning of mudslides, flooding and swollen rivers.

Australian Associated Press