Tokyo – At least 20 people were dead and 14 unaccounted for while rescuers were rushing to find survivors in south-western Japan, where record-breaking torrential rains triggered landslides and flooding, local media reported on Sunday.
Fourteen others were feared dead a day after flooding hit a rural area of Kumamoto prefecture, broadcaster NHK reported, citing local officials.
About 50 people were rescued from a flood-hit nursing home in Kuma Village, some 950 kilometres south-west of Tokyo, Kyodo News reported.
Authorities in Kumamoto ordered about 200,000 residents to flee their homes as they were still warning of torrential rains, mudslides, flooding and swollen rivers in the region.
The Japan Meteorological Agency expected heavy rain to pound wide areas of eastern and western Japan through Tuesday.
The agency’s chief forecaster, Satoshi Sugimoto, said there is a chance that some areas of western Japan could see more rains than predicted.
A seasonal rainy front had dumped heavy rains in the prefectures of Kumamoto and Kagoshima since Saturday.
Rainfall of up to 300 millimetres was forecast for the south-western Island of Shikoku, 250 millimetres for the Island of Kyushu, including Kumamoto, and 200 millimetres for eastern and central Japan, including Tokyo, by Monday evening, according to the agency.
Two years ago, torrential rains in western Japan caused floods and landslides, killing more than 220 people, the largest number of weather-related deaths in three decades.
About 4,300 people in the affected areas still live in temporary housing.