Flood death toll hits 20 in Japan

At least 20 people are dead after torrential rain triggered landslides and flooding in Japan.
At least 20 people are dead after torrential rain triggered landslides and flooding in Japan.

The death toll from floods and landslides unleashed by torrential rains on Japan's southern island of Kyushu has risen to 20, with 14 people missing.

More heavy rain is forecast after Saturday's deadly deluge in the Kumamoto prefecture, Japan's worst natural disaster since Typhoon Hagibis in October last year left about 90 people dead.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a meeting of Japan's disaster response task force to step up the search and rescue operations.

"Nothing is more important than human lives. Please make utmost effort through the night to search for missing people," Abe said after Japanese television broadcast images of overturned cars, people shovelling mud from their homes and the military rescuing stranded residents in boats.

"We had no electricity and no running water," one rescued woman told the broadcaster. "It was tough."

TV footage also showed a gymnasium-turned-evacuation centre equipped with face masks, disinfectants and thermometers to prevent coronavirus infections.

The Japan Meteorological Agency urged people to stay vigilant, as more rains are predicted.

"From this evening on, extremely heavy rains with thunder are expected in southern as well as northern Kyushu," an agency official told Reuters.

"The rainfall so far has already loosened the ground. There is a high chance of landslides occurring, even without much additional rain."

Australian Associated Press