Heavy rain forced search operations in Kyushu to be suspended Thursday, a week after the first of a series of strong quakes hit the area.

Ikuo Kabashima, governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, which was hit most severely by the disaster and counts 48 dead, pledged Thursday to step up efforts to secure public housing, hotels and ships to accommodate evacuees currently taking shelter in schools and elsewhere and to consider constructing temporary housing if necessary.

The quakes were centering on Kumamoto and the adjacent prefecture of Oita, and two people are still missing in the village of Minamiaso, Kumamoto Prefecture.