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article imageContinuing heavy rains hinder clean-up after floods in Japan

article:328746:4::0
By Anne Sewell     Jul 16, 2012 in Environment
With fears of more landslides, the flood clean-up operation in Japan is being delayed. More torrential rains hit the country's south-west on Monday. Authorities are saying that if it rains again, clean-up work may have to be put on hold.
So far, rainfall in the hardest-hit Aso, which is located at the foot of a volcano in Kumamoto, has been measured at 81.7 cms (32.2 inches).
On Monday afternoon, the death toll from floods and landslides rose to 28, as the bodies of two men, aged 30 and 57, were recovered in separate areas, while rescuers continued their search for four missing people.
While there is now a short break in the storms, heavy rains have been hitting Kyushu Island for four days, leaving 32 people dead or missing.
2,100 houses in the northern part of Kyushu are without electricity. Of the 400,000 residents who were previously evacuated, most have been allowed to return home. However, 6,000 residents are still being instructed to stay away from their homes.
Local government officials and volunteers have been assisting residents, shovelling mud and removing damaged furniture from their homes. Mechanical diggers are being used to remove debris and fallen trees from the roads.
Troops were called in on Sunday to airlift supplies to those stranded in the area, and helicopters have been dispatched to rescue the elderly.
As if the torrential rains are not enough, there is also the threat of a typhoon that is currently over the Pacific and projected to head towards southwest Japan.
In Yame city, which is in a mountainous area of Fukuoka prefecture, official Takashi Yamaguchi told the media, "We are calling on our residents to be vigilant and go to shelter if necessary as a fresh heavy rain warning was just issued."
Masatatsu Minoda, an official from Kyushu's Kumamoto prefecture told AFP, "We are stepping up efforts to remove rubble as roads remain covered with mud at many points."
"Workers are engaged in clean-up efforts while taking care against possible further landslides. We may have to stop working if it rains heavily again," he added.
Speaking from Tokyo, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told the local television service that the government is ready to take "swift measures" to help victims recover from the disaster.
article:328746:4::0
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