Flooding and landslides in Japan leave at least 75 dead, authorities say

Flooding and landslides in Japan leave at least 75 dead, authorities say

Flooding and landslides in Japan leave at least 75 dead, authorities say

The toll in days of devastating rains in southwestern Japan has risen to 100, the government's top spokesman said Monday, as search-and-rescue operations continued.

Abe is now said to be arranging visits to the regions in western Japan hardest hit by landslides and floods, such as Hiroshima Prefecture, where 44 people out of a confirmed 112 nationwide thus far, have been confirmed dead, sources close to the prime minister said.

The Pope also offered "encouragement to the civil authorities and all those involved in the search and rescue efforts as they assist the victims of this disaster" and upon all he invoked "abundant blessings".

More than 54,000 emergency workers, police and troops have been deployed to help people, with the Self Defence Forces dispatching several planes to help airlift residents to safety.

"Rescues, saving lives and evacuations are a race against time", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said as he met a government crisis cell set up to respond to the disaster.

The Japan Meteorological Agency says three hours of rainfall in one area in Kochi prefecture reached an accumulated 26.3 centimeters (10.4 inches), the highest since such records started in 1976.

By Sunday evening, 2.5 million people in 15 prefectures were still under evacuation orders. Some 40 helicopters have been flying rescue missions.

"I'm most grateful to rescuers", said Shigeyuki Asano, a 79-year-old patient who spent a night without electricity or water.

Heavy rain was forecast to continue through Sunday in the west and the east, agency official Minako Sakurai told reporters.

Japanese media reports said 88 people died and 58 people are missing.

Companies including Mazda Motor Corp., Daihatsu Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. kept work halted at factories as power and water supply in wide parts of Hiroshima and Okayama have been cut off.

Almost 60 people still remain unaccounted for, according to national broadcaster NHK.

Evacuation orders were in place for almost 2 million people and landslide warnings were issued in many prefectures.

In the town of Uwajima in Ehime Prefecture, a 63-year-old man was buried alive in his house due to landslides.

Japan monitors weather conditions and issues warnings early, but its dense population means every bit of usable land is built on in the mostly mountainous country, leaving it prone to disasters.

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