Photo/IllutrationSelf-Defense Forces members search for survivors in Toho, Fukuoka Prefecture, on July 8. (Kazuhiro Nagashima)

  • Photo/Illustraion

The death toll from the relentless deluge of torrential rain in the northern Kyushu region rose to 16 in Fukuoka and Oita prefectures on July 8, while 15 people remain missing or out of contact.

The number of evacuees in the two prefectures stands at around 1,700.

As torrential downpours were expected to continue in some areas of northern Kyushu through July 9, the Japan Meteorological Agency urged residents to take precautions against landslides and flooding.

Apart from the 16 deaths, Saga prefectural police reported that three female bodies were found in the Ariake Sea, west of Fukuoka Prefecture, early July 8.

They were discovered some distance from the mouth of the Chikugogawa river that flows from the northern Kyushu region westward into the Ariake Sea. All the bodies bore minor injuries, which led police to suspect that they were caught up in flooding.

A male body was also found near the mouth of Chikugogawa river the same morning, according to the Miike Coast Guard Office based in Omuta, Fukuoka Prefecture.

The individual was also likely caught up in the torrential rain.

Self-Defense Forces members, firefighters and police officers are racing to find survivors as the chances of finding any missing people alive diminishes drastically 72 hours after a disaster.