At least 134 confirmed dead as Japan combs through mud for missing

Tuesday, 10 Jul, 2018

At an emergency meeting Tuesday in Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the federal government would streamline the process for emergency aid.

Police arrive to clear debris scattered on a street in a flood hit area in Kumano, Hiroshima prefecture on July 9, 2018. Road blockages and power outages have also forced many companies to halt operations until the circumstances lift.

Images from Kuyashiki, a city on the southern coast of Okayama Prefecture, show cars overturned or buried in mud.

Self-Defense Forces personnels rescue people by boats from Mabi Memorial Hospital that was isolated due to flood damage caused by heavy rain in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture on July 8, 2018.

Although evacuation orders were scaled back sharply from the weekend, some 1.7 million people still face orders or advice to keep away from homes, fire and disaster officials said.

Almost 13,000 customers had no electricity, power companies said on Monday, while hundreds of thousands had no water.

Policemen check a damaged auto following heavy rains and flooding in Hiroshima.

Japan is struggling to restore utilities and bring relief to the victims of its worst floods in 36 years, as the death toll rises to 134 with dozens still missing.

"We can not take baths, the toilet doesn't work and our food stockpile is running low", said Yumeko Matsui, whose home in the city of Mihara has been without water since Saturday. "There are still many people whose safety has yet to be confirmed".

Another resident, 82-year-old Saburo Yokoyama, said he was horrified when he saw floodwater flowing just outside his house.

The landslides and flooding across much of western Japan have killed at least 155 people, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

The heaviest rainfall seen in Japan for decades has caused destruction over large parts of the country, particularly in the south-west, where 58 people are missing.

Most of the deaths in hard-hit Hiroshima were from landslides in areas where homes had been built up against steep slopes, beginning in the 1970s, said Takashi Tsuchida, a civil engineering professor at Hiroshima University.

The worst hit area was Hiroshima prefecture.

In Okayama, brown water engulfed residential areas with people fleeing to rooftops and balconies, to signal rescue helicopters.

The severe weather took many people in southwest Japan by surprise. "We are fully committed to life-saving rescue and evacuation", he said.

About 269,000 homes were affected by water outages in 12 prefectures in western Japan as of Tuesday morning, according to the health ministry. The maps of mandatory evacuation areas indicate that an estimated 2 million people have been displaced from their homes, though it remains unclear how many of these structures will still be standing when citizens are able to return. Officials in Ehime prefecture asked the central government to review a weather warning system, noting that rain warnings were issued after damage and casualties were occurring.