Japan floods death toll rises to 25

A rescue team arrives at a disaster area following heavy flooding in Asakura, Fukuoka prefecture, on July 7, 2017.
A rescue team arrives at a disaster area following heavy flooding in Asakura, Fukuoka prefecture, on July 7, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - The death toll from torrential rains and flooding that swept through Japan's south has reached 25, the government said on Tuesday (July 11), as rescue teams battled through thick mud to rescue more than 100 still stranded.

Further downpours were predicted to pound Kyushu after swathes of the south-western island were devastated last week by overflowing rivers - sweeping away roads, houses and schools and forcing thousands of people into makeshift shelters.

But many remain stranded, with emergency services struggling to reach them amid treacherous conditions.

Some 150 people were still cut off as of Monday evening in hardest-hit Fukuoka and Oita prefectures, said local government officials.

A total of 25 people have died, while at least 25 remain unaccounted for, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Tuesday.

Some 12,000 rescuers are making "utmost" efforts to find survivors and clear washed-up driftwood hampering the search, Suga said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cancelled a visit to Estonia that was originally planned as a last leg of his European tour, which included the Group of 20 summit in Germany, to come back to Tokyo on Tuesday afternoon to deal with the disaster.

Mr Abe will visit Fukuoka and Oita prefectures on Wednesday to talk to staff at shelters and local government officials, Mr Suga said.

More than 50cm of rain deluged parts of Kyushu over just 12 hours last week, while rains have continued intermittently since.

Japan's weather agency on Tuesday warned of continued heavy rains in Kyushu.