The Heat Is Online

Japan Floods Drive 250,000 People From Their Homes

Japan floods: Relief teams work as residents return, July 16, 2012

Residents of Japan's flood-hit areas are being allowed to return home after record rainfall that left thousands cut off and at least 26 people dead.

Clean-up efforts have also started after evacuation orders were lifted in the southern island of Kyushu.

A year's worth of rain fell in some areas over the weekend, causing landslides.

Troops are airlifting supplies to those trapped in mountainous areas and seeking at least six missing people.

Residents have started to clean up the mud and debris from their homes, with felled trees and debris also being removed from the roads.

"We are stepping up efforts to remove rubble as roads remain covered with mud at many points," Masatatsu Minoda, an official from Kumamoto prefecture, was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

"Workers are engaged in clean-up efforts while taking care against possible further landslides. We may have to stop working if it rains heavily again."

The weather agency says the worst is over but it warns that even a small amount of rainfall could trigger further landslides, says the BBC's Mariko Oi in Tokyo.

More rain and thunderstorms were being forecast for some areas, reports said.

On Sunday officials said 26 people were known to have died in Kumamoto, Oita and Fukuoka prefectures. Reports said most of the victims were elderly people in their 70s and 80s.

Evacuation orders were issued on Saturday for a quarter of a million people. The orders were lifted in most areas on Sunday as the rain stopped and many people were allowed to return to their homes.

Heavy rain has also caused flooding in parts of Japan's historic capital, Kyoto, on the main island of Honshu.