Japan troops fly supplies to flood victims

Troops on Sunday airlifted supplies to thousands of people cut off by landslides and torrential downpours that have killed at least 24 in southwest Japan as meteorologists warned of further heavy rain.

Television footage showed soldiers loading food, water and medical supplies onto military helicopters to send them to mountainous areas in Yame, Fukuoka prefecture on Kyushu island.

Local authorities were separately dispatching rescue helicopters to take patients and elderly villagers to hospital from the isolated area, where at least one person was killed, officials said.

More than 5,440 people have been cut off since late on Saturday as landslides and fallen trees have blocked roads and water supplies in the region which has been hit by unprecedented rainfall since Wednesday.

‘We will continue sending emergency rations to people there as it is still unknown when we can secure access to the area,’ said Kayo Shinohara, a spokeswoman for Yame City government.
‘We are trying to do our best to remove rubble as soon as possible,’ the spokeswoman told AFP by phone.

Rescue operations resumed early on Sunday in other affected areas of Kyushu, where at least eight people were still missing after a total of 24 people were confirmed dead in landslides or floods, officials said. Public broadcaster NHK showed rescuers using heavy machinery to remove uprooted trees, boulders and debris, while residents scooped mud out of their houses with shovels.

Some 3,600 people remained ordered or advised to leave their homes as at least 2,800 houses were flooded, NHK said, after local authorities lifted similar advice to some 400,000 others by on Sunday morning. The weather eased somewhat on Sunday bringing temporary relief, but the Japan Meteorological Agency warned of more heavy rain, landslides and floods on the main southern island of Kyushu.

‘A peak of heavy rain in northern Kyushu has passed, but there is fear that driving rain with thunder may hit northern Kyushu as warm and humid air is flowing to the rain front,’ the agency said. 
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