Dead In Japan Rains, Dozens Still Missing

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media captionJapan's military have been airlifting people to safety from the flood waters

Torrential rain unleashed floods and landslides in western Japan last week, bringing death and destruction, especially to neighbourhoods built decades ago near steep slopes.

With temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher predicted for the devastated areas in Okayama and Hiroshima prefectures, attention was turning to preventing heat-stroke among rescue workers and in evacuation centres where thousands of people sought shelter.

More than 50 people were unaccounted for as of Tuesday evening, many in the hardest-hit Hiroshima area.

Policemen conduct a search operation for missing people in Kumano Town, Hiroshima Prefecture.

A new evacuation was ordered Tuesday for the town of Fuchu, after the Enoki River overflowed the previous day, the newspaper said.

"We are cut off from the road and we can't go anywhere by vehicle", Hyuga told AP news agency.

Roads were closed and train services suspended in parts of western Japan.

Assessment of the casualties was slowed by the scale of the area affected.

"As far as we know, 134 people have died".

Public broadcaster NHK TV showed overturned cars on roads covered with mud and buildings with water nearly up to rooftops.

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Local government officials said pumping trucks were being deployed to help restore access to some of the worst-hit areas in the area, and with the rains stopped, water was starting to recede.

People fled to rooftops and balconies in the city of Kurashiki, at the mouth of the Takahashi River, about 670 kilometers (415 miles) from Tokyo.

They were rescued hours later, and returned to the town on Monday, where Ogawa found his telephone, filled with calls from concerned relatives and friends.

"Rescue efforts are a battle with time", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.

Dozens of people are still missing, and with the rains finally letting up on Monday, rescue workers were able to reach previously cut-off places where authorities fear more bodies may be trapped beneath debris.

Many of those who managed to evacuate their homes have relied on water supplied by local municipalities and the Self-Defense Forces.

Rescue workers acknowledged the odds of finding people alive were getting longer. At the same time, it has been impossible to confirm the security and location of 78 others, " Suga told a news conference. Critical infrastructure has been hit, including railway tracks.

Government response: The Japanese government set up an emergency management center at the prime minister's office and has dispatched approximately 54,000 military, police and firefighters to carry out the rescue missions and provide disaster relief.

"We will do everything we can so that people will not have to continue living in uncomfortable situations in shelters", Abe said at a morning meeting.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has reported that one area of the Kochi prefecture experienced a staggering 26.3 centimeters (10.4 inches) of precipitation in just three hours, almost as much as the average amount for the entire month of July (32.8 centimeters or 12.9 inches), typically southwestern Japan's second wettest month after June.

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