At least 126 dead as heavy rains hit Japan

At least 126 dead as heavy rains hit Japan

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Soldiers carry an elderly woman to a vehicle to be evacuated after rescuing her following heavy flooding Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption This is the worst death toll triggered by rains Japan has seen since 1982, when nearly 300 people died

At least 141 people are now known to have died in floods and landslides triggered by torrential rain in western Japan, says the government.

It is the highest death toll caused by rainfall that Japan has seen in more than three decades.

Rescuers are now digging through mud and rubble in a race to find survivors, as dozens are still missing.

About two million people have been evacuated from the region after rivers burst their banks.

Authorities have opened up school halls and gymnasiums to those who have been displaced by the rainfall.

There remains a risk of landslides, with rain-sodden hilltops liable to collapse.

“I have asked my family to prepare for the worst,” 38-year-old Kosuke Kiyohara, who has not heard from his sister and her two sons, told AFP.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has cancelled an overseas trip to deal with the flood crisis.

More than 70,000 rescue workers, including the fire service and the army, are involved in the relief effort.

Image copyright AFP

Image caption More than 70,000 emergency workers have been deployed across western Japan

Image copyright Getty Images

Image caption Around 12,000 people are staying in evacuation centres across 15 prefectures

Image copyright Getty Images

Image caption Cars and houses were left wrecked by heavy rains, leaving areas covered in debris and thick mud

Image copyright Getty Images

Image caption Thousands of homes are flooded and cut off from water and electricity

Image copyright Getty Images

Image caption Since last Thursday, parts of western Japan have received three times the usual rainfall for the whole of July

Image copyright Getty Images

Image caption Though persistent rains have ended, officials have warned of sudden showers, thunderstorms and landslides

Flood warnings are still in effect for some of the worst hit areas, including the Okayama prefecture in the southern part of Japan.

But more settled weather is expected over the next few days which is likely to help with rescue efforts.

“We are checking every single house to see if there are people still trapped inside them. We know it’s a race against time, we are trying as hard as we can,” an official with the prefecture’s government told AFP.

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