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176 confirmed dead after heavy rainstorms in western Japan, dozens still missing

176 confirmed dead after heavy rainstorms in western Japan, dozens still missing”

The death toll on Tuesday rose to more than 150 people in the flooding and mudslides in western Japan, the government said.

Most of the deaths were reported in Hiroshima and Ehime Prefectures, though eight prefectures were impacted.

In the town of Motoyama, about 600km (370 miles) west of the capital Tokyo, 583mm (23in) of rain fell between Friday morning and Saturday morning, Japan's meteorological agency said.

The torrential downpours have caused flash flooding and landslides, with local media displaying a trail of destruction to be battled by the country. Military paddle boats and helicopters brought people to the ground.

Desperate family members of missing locals waited nearby for word of their relatives.

In one part of Kumano, the nose of a white vehicle was just visible underneath the top floor of a home that had been torn from the rest of the building and swept down a hillside.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned of a "race against time" to rescue flood victims on Sunday, as emergency response teams in the country's western regions search for at least 60 missing, after floods and landslides caused by torrential rains killed over 100 people.

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

Ryutaro Hirakawa, 18, said he fled his house after smelling a odd odour coming from the ground, a sign of a landslide.

Around 23,000 people are now in evacuation centers after fleeing the historic deluge and 73,000 disaster response workers have been recruited to assist in rescue efforts.

Meanwhile, the rains also shuttered factories, paralysed logistics supply chains and closed businesses including 24-hour convenience stores.

"If the water level drops low enough, they may be able to access hard-hit areas by road or on foot".

"I can't reach her phone", he told AFP on Monday, sitting across from a house that had been ripped apart and tossed on its side by a huge landslide.

But this rainfront has been unprecedented: record rainfall was recorded in the 72 hours to Sunday at 118 government observation points across the affected area, the weather agency told the Agence France-Presse. At a major supermarket in town, employees sold bottled water and tea, cups of noodles and other preserved foods that survived the floods, while employees cleaned damaged merchandise, throwing items into dozens of plastic bags.

Flooded rice fields in Mihara.

A man and his wife protect their home from water with sand bags in Saka, Hiroshima prefecture.

"I got married here, and we built this house two years afterwards".

Abe is up for re-election as party leader in September and has seen his support rates edge back up after taking a hit over a cronyism scandal earlier this year.



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