Death toll rises to 34 in rain-hit southwestern Japan

TOKYO — Death toll from flooding and mudslides in Fukuoka and Oita prefectures has risen to 34, while seven people were still missing following the torrential rain that began to pummel southwestern Japan on July 5.

Two more bodies discovered in the Ariake Sea, tens of kilometers from the disaster-hit areas, were identified on Monday as victims of the torrential rain who had been washed downstream from Asakura in Fukuoka prefecture, bringing the total death toll to 34.

Meanwhile, search and rescue operations continued on Monday, with a total of some 2,700 members from Japan’s Self-Defense Force (SDF) and firefighters deployed, while 9,000 volunteers worked in the disaster-hit area to clear mud and damaged furniture from houses.

The search and rescue operations as well as the voluntary work were suspended on Monday afternoon, as some 16,000 residents in the city of Asakura and the village of Toho, both in Fukuoka Prefecture, were advised to evacuate due to possible heavy rain.

The evacuation orders were lifted some time after 5:00 p.m. local time, but the Japan Meteorological Agency warned that heavy rain might still occur in Fukuoka prefecture on Tuesday.

The disaster-hit areas also suffered from high temperature on Monday, with the highest temperature hitting 34.8 Celsius degree and 36.2 Celsius degree, respectively, in Asakura and in Hita, two of the hardest hit areas, according to the weather agency.