Japan's southwest braces for more torrential rain, thunderstorms as rescue efforts continue

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-11 18:06:31|Editor: Song Lifang
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TOKYO, July 11 (Xinhua) -- The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) warned Tuesday of more heavy rain and thunderstorms through Wednesday in northern parts of the island of Kyushu in southwest Japan already pummeled by torrential rainfall.

The recent deluge in Japan's southwest has left 25 people dead and as many still unaccounted for as of Tuesday, with 1,500 people still displaced from their homes in the prefectures of Fukuoka and Oita, local authorities said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cut short his European tour by a day and returned to Japan on Tuesday afternoon, saying he will visit the affected areas on Wednesday.

"We will move forward with clearing debris and restoring roads and other infrastructure, devoting every effort to securing places for people to live and getting their lives back in order as soon as possible," Abe was quoted as telling a meeting of ministers on Tuesday.

The prime minister said that 12,000 Self-Defense Forces personnel, firefighters, coast guard and police officers are continuing with emergency search and rescue efforts, adding that he hopes the search operations would continue intensively and for the rescuers to bear in mind the "people praying for their loved ones' safety."

Asakura city in the western prefecture of Fukuoka, one of the hardest-hit regions, has started accepting applications for disaster victim financial aid, local authorities said Tuesday.

Many houses were completely washed away in the city as rivers breached their banks and others swamped by mud or leveled by landslides following the record amount of rainfall that battered the region.

Those with damaged homes are eligible to claim financial aid once they have received a disaster victim certificate, authorities said.

A day earlier, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a press briefing on the matter that the government will, in cooperation with local officials, analyze the extent of the deluge in the southwest.

Following this he said a quick decision will be made as to whether the government will designate the calamity a "severe disaster" in which case government subsidies for reconstruction and restoration will be made available.