Japan floods: Death toll rises as PM warns of 'race against time'

Residents look over their flooded town in Kurashiki Okayama Prefecture western Japan

Residents look over their flooded town in Kurashiki Okayama Prefecture western

Disasters set off by torrential rains have become more frequent in Japan, perhaps due to global warming, experts say.

Rescue workers conduct search and rescue operations at a landslide site caused by heavy rain in Kumano Town, Hiroshima Prefecture, western Japan, July 11, 2018. "The smell of soil and grass was so strong when I opened the window", he said.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry's Fire and Disaster Management Agency announced that 23,369 people stayed in shelters as of Sunday night. That has contributed to the danger of landslides, which accounted for numerous deaths in this latest disaster.

Kurashiki city in Okayama prefecture, where the Mabi district was especially hard hit by this week's floods, distributed a hazard map in 2016, the Yomiuri newspaper said. At least 176 people have died because of the weather disaster.

Two million people were forced to flee their homes, advised or ordered by the government to evacuate.

Water accumulating behind piles of debris blocking rivers also posed a growing danger, as was seen on Monday when a swollen river began pouring into a residential area, prompting additional evacuation orders.

KURASHIKI Unprecedented rains that have killed at least 69 people also stranded 1,850 in the Japanese city of Kurashiki yesterday, with rescuers using helicopters and boats after rivers surged over their banks. Officials in Ehime prefecture asked the government to review its weather warning system, noting that rain warnings were issued after damage and casualties already had occurred. "Thankfully, I was OK and nobody in this neighborhood was severely injured", he told the Kyodo news agency.

But with around 60 people still feared missing, local authorities said they would continue searching house by house looking for survivors, or victims.

Even some of those whose homes were not destroyed were struggling with water and electricity shortages. The bodies of a fourth-grade boy at an elementary school and his mother were found, two of three family members who went missing due to landslides in Uwajima, Ehime Prefecture.

"There are still many people missing and others in need of help, we are working against time", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

This process exposes the corestones, Jitosono said, which can be as large as 2 meters wide and weigh several tons, and, when the land shifts, these rocks are sent hurtling down the mountains and can significantly multiply the damage caused.

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