Death toll rises to 27 in rain-hit southwestern Japan as rescue missions continue

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-12 18:44:34|Editor: Song Lifang
Video PlayerClose

TOKYO, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Rescue missions continued in rain-pummeled southwestern Japan on Wednesday, as over 20 people were still unaccounted for, while death toll from flooding and mudslides in Fukuoka and Oita prefectures has risen to 27.

Two more bodies were recovered on Wednesday in the city of Asakura in Fukuoka prefecture, one of the hardest-hit areas since the torrential rain began a week ago.

Rescue workers restored on Wednesday access to two districts in the city of Hita, Oita prefecture, where a total of 110 people had been stranded.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the disaster-stricken areas on Wednesday after cutting short his visit to Europe and returning to Japan a day earlier.

He told reporters that he wants to speed up the process of deciding whether to designate the calamity a "severe disaster" in which case government subsidies for reconstruction and restoration will be made available.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press briefing earlier in the day that the government is determined to do its utmost to search for those people still missing.

He also said that the government is taking measures to tackle the heat in the evacuation centers, such as installing simple air-conditioners.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has urged residents, especially those working outdoors for search and rescue missions and those in evacuation centers in disaster-stricken Kyushu main island, to take heatstroke prevention measures, as large areas of Japan are expected to experience hot weather.

A total of of some 1,300 people were still taking shelter outside their homes in Fukuoka and Oita prefectures, according to local authorities.