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'28 dead' following Japanese floods

Most of the estimated quarter of a million people who fled flooding in south-west Japan are now able to return home, although the danger has not fully passed from record rainfall that led to at least 28 deaths.

Thousands of homes and hundreds of roads were damaged, while hundreds of landslides were reported.

The military has airlifted food by helicopter to stranded districts.

News reports said 28 people have died and police were searching for four missing people in the three prefectures of Kumamoto, Oita and Fukuoka, after heavy rainfall that began on Thursday.

Nationwide tallies of the dead and missing are not immediately available.

Weather officials warned people to be careful even in areas where rain had subsided because the land was still mushy and prone to landslides. More rain is possible later today.

Even as some of the water subsided, homes and farms on the southern island of Kyushu, hardest hit by the flooding, were still getting food shipments, although mostly by land, local officials said.

The intense rain occurred as far north as the ancient capital of Kyoto, where rainfall exceeded 90mm (3.5in) per hour - a condition in which rain cascades in such torrents that seeing ahead becomes impossible.

Evacuation orders are gradually being lifted, allowing most residents to return home by Sunday night.

Fukuoka prefecture said that as of Monday, damage there extended to more than 4,300 homes, 800 roads and 20 bridges. At least 518 landslides were recorded, and more than 2,700 people had been evacuated.

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