The death toll has been rising in the Kumamoto prefecture of southwestern Japan as tens of thousands of workers continued rescue and recovery efforts after flooding downpours soaked the region early Saturday.
As of Monday afternoon, local time, at least 44 people have been confirmed dead in Kumamoto and at least 10 are still missing, The Japan Times reported.
River levels have been rising across the Kyushu region as rounds of downpours have moved through the area. Numerous reporting stations have measured rivers at “flood risk levels,” and officials are urging residents to remain vigilant as the risk for flooding remains high, according to NHK.
The Kuma River, which flows through the Kumamoto prefecture, rose well above its banks on Saturday, washing away at least one bridge and cutting off citizens from rescue crews.
The river also flooded a nursing home located near its edge, killing more than a dozen residents who were stranded on the lowest level.
The stagnant weather pattern that has led to the devastation in western Japan has been in place since the end of June. The largely stationary front that brings rounds of heavy rain to parts of eastern China during the wet season has moved to the north in recent weeks.
Emergency warnings for heavy rain and landslides, issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency, are in still place across parts of Fukuoka and Saga, prefectures located in the northern portion of the Kyushu region with more rounds of heavy rain on the way.
This front is forecast to remain over Japan through at least this week. As several storms move along this front, more heavy rain will soak the flood-stricken country.
Space is limited in evacuation centers due to social distancing regulations. While some residents were forced to seek shelter in alternate locations, others opted to register with a shelter but remain in their vehicles, according to the Japan Times.
The exact track of each storm will determine where the heaviest rain will fall, but western Japan will face the brunt of each storm. With rainfall totals of up to 300 mm (12 inches) expected in parts of southwestern Japan, the risk for additional flooding, mudslides and evacuation orders will be likely this week.