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Japan floods toll rises to 16

ASAKURA, Japan (Reuters) – Japanese rescue crews took advantage of a break in the weather on Saturday to search for survivors of torrential rain, floods and landslides, as the death toll from several days of freak weather rose to 16, the NHK state broadcaster reported.

Authorities warned of more downpours over the weekend, compounding the misery that the summer storms have brought to southwest Japan since Wednesday.

Some neighborhoods have been devastated by flooding and landslides, and rescue workers and residents have been picking their way through expanses of broken, water-logged trees, branches and mud.

“All the mud and debris is making the clean-up effort difficult,” said Susumu Higuchi, a resident of Asakura.

The city was pounded by more than 600 mm (24 inches) of rain in the 24 hours to 5 a.m. (2000 GMT) on Saturday, according to Japan’s weather agency. The weather agency said 150 mm of rain was forecast to fall in industrialized Northern Kyushu in the 24 hours to 6 a.m. on Sunday. Some places have seen more rain in a matter of hours than they usually get in the whole month of July.

The rain has been caused by a low pressure over the Pacific that has been feeding into moist air into Japan’s seasonal rainy front.