© JIJI PRESS/AFP/File | Kyushu has been left devastated after overflowing rivers and torrential downpours swept away roads, houses and schools
TOKYO - 13 July 2017:The death toll from heavy rains and flooding in Japan's south has risen to 30, officials said Thursday, while rescue workers continued their efforts to find survivors.
Heavy seasonal rains last week caused severe flooding that tore up roads and destroyed houses on the southern island of Kyushu, with hundreds of thousands of people forced to flee their homes.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cancelled a visit to Estonia that was originally planned as the last leg of a European tour, flying to the region Wednesday to view the damage and console residents.
The government of the island's Fukuoka prefecture said it had identified the body of a resident from hardest-hit Asakura city, bringing the death toll from that region alone to 24.
A week after the disaster began, hundreds of people were still staying in school gymnasiums and public buildings used as makeshift shelters.
Thousands of police, soldiers and rescue workers are searching for 19 people who remain unaccounted for, according to local officials.