The death toll from heavy rain and flooding in southern Japan this week has risen to 15, officials said Saturday, as rescue workers reached isolated villages where at least 14 others are missing and feared dead.
Around 180 people are still cut off by heavy flooding and landslides in both prefectures, as 1,700 people remain camped out in emergency evacuation shelters, local officials said. "Living as an evacuee is unbearable for an elderly person".
Fallen trees smashed into houses in the hard-hit Fukuoka prefecture city of Asakura, which saw more than 50 centimetres (almost 20 inches) of rain in a 12-hour period to Wednesday night.
The city of Asakura was hit by more than 600 mm (24 inches) of rain since it started pouring on Wednesday, and Hita was pounded by almost 450 mm of rain during the same period, the meteorological agency said.
As rescue operations continued at full speed, five bodies were found in the Ariake Sea, likely victims of the torrential rain that started pounding the northern Kyushu region three days ago.
They believe the bodies may have been washed downstream along the Chikugo River, which flows through Kumamoto, Oita, Fukuoka and Saga prefectures, and into the sea.
Some schools in the affected area chose to cut short the first semester and move up the start of summer vacation by around 10 days as students face difficulty in commuting to school.
At a junior high school in Asakura, around 160 students gathered for a ceremony to mark the end of the semester and offered a moment of silence.
Volunteers from within and outside Fukuoka began gathering in Asakura to help remove sand and soil from houses. Kyushu is the name of the southwestern main island that includes Fukuoka and Oita.
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