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Severe weather death toll hits 56, ministry deploys 20 000 troops as disaster widens to northern Kyushu, Japan

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The death toll caused by record-breaking rains in Kyushu, Japan hit 56 on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. The Defense Ministry said it will double the number of troops to 20 000 and deploy them to hard-hit areas as disaster widened to the island's northern region. A team from the Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA) has also arrived in Hitoyoshi City, Kumamoto Prefecture, to partake in disaster relief operations.

The worst-affected area in Kyushu is Kumamoto Prefecture, which has so far reported a total of 54 fatalities. An elderly man and woman were confirmed dead on Tuesday after they were retrieved from a vehicle that was swept away into a flooded rice field in Yamaga.

Another unidentified person was also confirmed dead, according to Yatsushiro officials. Search operations were ongoing for others missing, although the initial 72-hour period considered critical for finding people alive has passed at many areas struck by flooding and landslides.

Almost 3 000 families in Kumamoto and its neighboring prefectures remain without running water, the welfare ministry said, while local authorities have relocated people stranded in mountainous areas where electricity, communication, and water services have been disrupted.

"The village of Kuma is severely isolated. Our SDF personnel is delivering water and food on foot, and checking their safety," said defense minister Taro Kono.

The Defense Ministry said it will deploy 20 000 Self-Defense Forces members as disaster-affected areas widened to the northern Kyushu region. Part of AMDA's team has also started getting involved by providing medical and relief assistance.

More rain is expected in the following days across wide swaths from southwestern to northeastern Japan as warm and humid air flows into the seasonal front, stretching across the archipelago.

Featured image credit: KyodoNews/YouTube

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