Severe Rain, Flooding Leave 38 Dead, Scores Missing in Japan

A landslide blocks National Route No. 156 in Gujo Gifu Prefecture

A landslide blocks National Route No. 156 in Gujo Gifu Prefecture

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said one area in Kochi prefecture had recorded 263mm of rain in three hours, the highest since such records started in 1976. Authorities warned landslides could strike even after rain subsides as the calamity shaped up to be potentially the worst in decades.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the whereabouts of 92 people is unknown, mostly in the southern area of Hiroshima prefecture.

More than two million people have been told to evacuate, but the orders are not mandatory and many remained at home, becoming trapped by rapidly rising water or sudden landslides.

Abe told reporters on Sunday that the rescuers are battling time to save people in need of help.

Rescue workers dug into the dirt as landslides crushed houses in the same region, while several people evacuated to their rooftops as floods swamped entire residential areas in part of the Okayama region. The death toll is the highest caused by water disasters since 2014 when 77 people were killed in heavy rain which set off landslides in Hiroshima in western Japan.

Rescue workers look for missing people in a house damaged by heavy rain in Kumano town, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 9, 2018.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe canceled an overseas trip to deal with Japan's worst flood disaster since 1983, with several million people forced from their homes. A lot of them were rescued by boat or helicopter.

The agency is also maintaining the same warning that has been issued to Gifu Prefecture.

The Japanese government set up an emergency office, designed for crises such as major earthquakes.

The death toll from torrential rains in western Japan reached 100 on Monday, with many still missing after massive flooding and landslides destroyed homes and displaced tens of thousands.

At least 31 people have died and others are still missing in western Japan areas hit by torrential rain over the past few days to Saturday, according to authorities.

A couple was found dead in a farmhouse buried in a mudslide in Kagoshima prefecture Monday, while earlier a woman who was reported as missing after getting trapped in her auto was found dead, Kyodo news service reported.

Roads were transformed into muddy flowing rivers, with dirt piled up on either side as flood water gushed around the wheels of stranded cars.

At the moment a team of 54,000 rescuers composed of members of the military, police and fire departments has been dispatched across the west and southwest of Japan.

Two sisters from an elementary school with just six students on the small island of Nuwa in Ehime prefecture also died, according to Reuters.

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