Helicopters and boats have rescued more people from their homes in the Kumamoto region. More than 40,000 defense troops, the coast guard and fire brigades have been taking part in the operation.

A street is covered by debris and mud in a flooded affected area following torrential rain in Ashikita, Kumamoto prefecture on July 6, 2020.
A street is covered by debris and mud in a flooded affected area following torrential rain in Ashikita, Kumamoto prefecture on July 6, 2020. (AFP)

Nearly 40 people are feared dead as torrential rains continue to hit Japan's southwestern island of Kyushu, with river banks at risk of bursting and new evacuation orders put in place.

Death toll from flooding and mudslides, that began at the weekend, has reached at least 21 on Monday.

A further 18 people were showing no vital signs and presumed dead pending official confirmation, and 13 people were missing, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference.

"I offer my deepest condolences for those who have passed from the torrential rains," Suga said, adding that some 40,000 members of the Self-Defence Force were involved in rescue missions.

He added that evacuation centres were also working on preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus by distributing disinfectant and asking evacuees to maintain their distance from each other.

As of Saturday, some 200,000 have been ordered to evacuate their homes, according to Kyodo news agency.

The floods are Japan's worst natural disaster since Typhoon Hagibis in October last year that left about 90 people dead. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies