Death toll climbs to 54 as heavy rain hammers southern Japan

Frederick Owens
July 9, 2018

The death toll from what's described as "historical rainfall" doubled early Sunday, with local television showing overflowing rivers, submerged vehicles, collapsed roads and homes crushed under landslides.

Thirteen were confirmed dead in Hiroshima Prefecture.

The agency warned that Japan's Kinki region, which includes Kyoto, Hyogo and Osaka prefectures, could be particularly hard-hit by downpours, escalating the risk of floods, landslides, lightning and tornadoes.

"As far as we could see from the helicopter, no-one is now waving for help", a rescue worker from Kurashiki city told AFP. 'The rescue teams are doing their utmost'.

The rain began late last week as the remnants of a typhoon fed into a seasonal rainy front, with humid, warm air from the Pacific making it still more active - a pattern similar to one that set off flooding in southwestern Japan exactly a year ago that killed dozens.

People wait to be rescued on the roof of a house in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture.

At least 38 people have reportedly died in Japan after torrential rainfall and widespread flooding.

The government put the number of victims at 48 with 28 others presumed dead as it issued new disaster warnings on Kyushu and Shikoku islands on Sunday.

Footage showed a massive rescue operation, with some 1,850 people isolated in the city, according to public broadcaster NHK.

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"The rescue and lifesaving operation is now a race against the clock", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

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

A residential area in Okayama prefecture, on the main island of Honshu, was covered in brown water spreading like a huge lake.

People wait to be rescued on the top of a house nearly submerged in floodwaters caused by heavy rains in southwestern Japan.

At least 49 people have died and at least 50 others are missing after torrential rain cause flooding in western and central Japan.

Roads remain flooded and damaged across western Japan, with some communities still cut off. Railways have been also affected by the disastrous weather, with many bridges washed away and tracks inundated, according to local media.

Another badly affected region was Kurashiki, a small town in western Okayama prefecture, where rescuers fought to evacuate several hundred trapped people, including children and elderly, from a hospital.

"We recognize more than 100 cases in which people, including those hit by landslides, are in need of rescue now", Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference Saturday.

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