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Nearly 40 feared dead as torrential rains hit southwest Japan

Flooding and mudslides that began on the weekend have killed 21 people so far. A further 18 people were presumed dead pending official confirmation, and 13 people remain missing, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference.

“We have so far rescued more than 800 people,” Suga said, adding that some 40,000 members police and fire departments, as well as the country’s Self-Defence Forces and coast guard were involved in rescue missions. He added that evacuation centres were also working on preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus by distributing disinfectant and asking evacuees to maintain distance from one other.

As of Saturday, some 200,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes, according to the Kyodo news agency.

The floods are Japan’s worst natural disaster since Typhoon Hagibis in October last year which left about 90 people dead.

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