TOKYO - Agence France-Presse
A man walks along a road covered in mud after heavy rains fell at Kumamoto city. AFP photo
Japanese troops yesterday 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 July 14 as landslides and fallen trees have blocked roads and water supplies in the region which has been hit by unprecedented rainfall since July 11.
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 yesterday morning.
The weather eased somewhat yesterday bringing temporary relief, but the Japan Meteorological Agency warned of more heavy rain, landslides and floods on the main southern island of Kyushu.