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Japan rescuers search for survivors after deadly floods

Heavy rain has triggered deadly floods and landslides and left hundreds stranded in southwest Japan, with police and soldiers struggling to clear up debris. Authorities warn that rainfall is expected to continue.

At least 18 people have been killed and 27 people were missing or unreachable amid severe flooding in southwestern Japan, officials said on Sunday. Five people were in critical condition, and more than 500 people remained cut off from their communities, according to Japan's public broadcaster NHK.

Around 1,900 police officers and soldiers were using heavy machinery to remove debris and clear the roads. Local residents also took part in the clean-up effort.

Destroyed railway bridge across a river Oita prefecture

Floodwaters destroyed this railway bridge in Oita prefecture

"Considering the feelings of those whose families are missing, I want a rescue as soon as possible," said Kiyoharu Kawano of the Ground Self-Defense Force, which is Japan's de-facto army.

Thousands have already been evacuated since the rainfall started on Wednesday, with flash floods causing bridges to collapse and destroying roads and houses. Authorities are housing people  in school gyms and public buildings across the areas of Fukuoka and neighboring Oita on Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's four main islands.

Two houses partially buried by a mudslide in Fukuoka prefecture

Homes like these in Fukuoka prefecture have been flooded and buried in dirt

Japan's meteorological agency said more heavy rain was expected on the island on Monday. Weather experts also warned of yielding ground.

The government was doing its "utmost" to recover the survivors, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a weekend press conference.

dj/tj (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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