Severe rainfall leaves dozens dead in Japan

Severe rainfall leaves dozens dead in Japan

Local residents retrieve belongings from their destroyed houses in a flooded area in Mabi town in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, Japan.

A helicopter flies over a flooded housing area in Kurashiki, Japan.

Rescuers conduct a search operation for missing persons in Kumano town, Hiroshima Prefecture, western Japan on July 9, 2018.

According to data compiled by the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry as of 5 a.m. Tuesday, the rainfall caused 346 landslides in 29 prefectures and more than 100 cases of river flooding in 20 prefectures, with floodwaters covering about 2,940 hectares.

Over 10,000 people were still in shelters across large parts of central and western Japan, local media said, including at a school in the town of Kurashiki in Okayama prefecture.

Many major highways and rail lines are still closed and tens of thousands of homes in Hiroshima are still without electricity or clean water.

Their foundations are also made of wood, which can be ideal for flexibility in the case of earthquakes, but stand little chance of withstanding the crushing pressure produced by a torrent of flood water or a massive landslide.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced Tuesday with the heavy rain that triggered the floods, 155 people are now confirmed dead and one person has no vital signs.

This is one of Japan's deadliest rain-related disasters in recent years.

"I'm a secondhand book seller", Ono said.

Japan's government set up an emergency management centre at the prime minister's office and some 54‚000 rescuers from the military‚ police and fire departments were dispatched across a wide swath of south-western and western Japan.

To address food and water shortages in disaster-hit areas, Abe said trucks ferrying supplies to convenience stores and other retailers will be treated as emergency vehicles.

So far 1.5million people have been forced to leave their homes, with 3million more advised to do so or face the devastating consequences brought by the flooding. HuffPost reports that evacuation orders or advisories were issued for 4.72 million people. Residents lined up for water under the scorching sun as temperatures rose to 35 Celsius - 95 Fahrenheit, raising risks of heat stroke.

Abe, who cancelled a foreign trip this week as the disaster worsened, was due to visit the flood-ravaged Okayama area to see the scale of the damage first-hand. The government mobilised 75,000 troops and emergency workers and almost 80 helicopters for the search and rescue effort, Suga said.

Abe has promised that the government will provide financial support to residents affected by the disaster.

While persistent rain had ended, officials warned of sudden showers and thunderstorms as well as more landslides on steep mountainsides saturated over the weekend.