World

Japan floods: Rescuers rush to find missing people

ASAKURA, JAPAN: Rescuers in Japan are scrambling to find more than 20 people missing after huge floods swept across the country's south this week, killing six and leaving a trail of destruction.

Raging rivers overflowing with water and mud have devastated swathes of Kyushu - the southernmost of Japan's four main islands - after heavy rainfall, sweeping away roads and houses and destroying schools.

Thousands of rescuers have been fighting through thick mud and battling the rain to search for missing and stranded people, with more than 1,100 believed to be cut off according to public broadcaster NHK.

The government said yesterday that six had been killed, while 22 remain unaccounted for.

NHK footage showed rescuers removing the body of a victim from a damaged home and heavy machines moving rocks and dirt to clean roads.

A number of fallen trees were shown smashed into houses in the hard-hit Fukuoka prefecture city of Asakura, which saw more than 50cm of rain in a 12-hour period to Wednesday night.

Vehicles could also be seen overturned or buried in mud and reinforced river banks destroyed by raging water.

Military trucks and rescue vehicles competed for space on the city's streets.

NHK said local authorities were dispatching helicopters to pluck people out of isolation, showing footage of stranded elderly residents being rescued.

It added that local authorities were rushing to restore access to regions cut off by the landslides and floods.

The government's top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, told a press conference that some 12,000 police, military, fireforce and coast guard personnel were taking part in rescue operations. - AFP

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