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Death toll in Japan floods reaches 15 with at least 14 missing

The number of fatalities from heavy rain and flooding in southern Japan rose to 15 as rescue workers reached isolated villages where at least 14 others are missing and feared dead.

Heavy rain warnings were still in place for parts of the southern island of Kyushu on Saturday, days after Typhoon Nanmadol swept across Japan, triggering floods and mudslides that wrecked hundreds of homes, roads and rice terraces.

The fire and disaster management agency said that 12 dead have so far been found in the hardest-hit Asakura city in Fukuoka prefecture and three others in neighbouring Oita prefecture.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said 12,000 troops, firefighters and other rescuers continued searching for the missing, clearing debris off roads and delivering fresh water and food supplies for the displaced at a school gymnasium.

They have reached most of the previously inaccessible villages, he said.

Nearly 1,000 residents were rescued over the past two days, but dozens are still believed to be stranded. The operation has been slowed by mudflows and floodwaters as the rain continued.

In the hardest-hit Asakura city in Fukuoka, the bodies of a woman, her daughter and a grandson were found late on Friday on the first floor of their house that was crushed by a mudslide, Japan's public broadcaster NHK said.

Footage showed inundated rice fields and collapsed homes. Roads and bridges were damaged, covered with broken trees washed down from the mountainside.

Hundreds of people in remote villages were being airlifted by military helicopters while soldiers waded through floodwater carrying elderly people on their backs.

Japan's royal family postponed the formal announcement of Princess Mako's engagement to a college classmate on Saturday out of consideration for the suffering of people in the affected areas, palace officials said. A new date has yet to be decided.

Japan's Meteorological Agency said Fukuoka and Oita had experienced unprecedented amounts of rain.

AP

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