World

Abe to visit flood-hit western Japan as deaths reach 176

Abe to visit flood-hit western Japan as deaths reach 176

The floodwaters slowly receded in Kurashiki city's Mabi district, one of the hardest hit areas, leaving a thick coat of brown mud and cars turned over or half-submerged, as residents returned to tackle the mess.

A quarter of flood-prone Mabi, sandwiched between two rivers, was inundated after a levee crumbled under the force of last week's torrents.

The toll in deadly rainfall that has devastated parts of Japan with flooding and landslides rose Tuesday to 122, as hopes faded that further survivors could be found.

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.

Thousands of homes were still without clean water and electricity.

"So many people called".

Dozens of people are still missing, and with the rains finally letting up on Monday, rescue workers were able to reach previously cut-off places where authorities fear more bodies may be trapped beneath debris.

"I'm cleaning out the edges here on the road, because the heavy machinery can't pick up dirt from the curb because it'll get stuck", he said.

People sat cross-legged on thin mats on a gymnasium floor in one center, plastic bags of belongings piled around them and bedding folded off to the side.




Top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday that at least 141 people had been killed.

The town of Fukuyama in Hiroshima prefecture issued an evacuation order over fears that a small lake could burst its banks.

While the weather had cleared after a weekend of torrential rain, Japan was still grappling with rescue operations and disaster relief operations, largely in the west of the country.

Images from Saka, a small town on the southern coast of Hiroshima Prefecture, show cars buried in mud. The Japan Times reports rescuers on Tuesday were looking for people stranded in homes and in flooded areas that had not yet drained.

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

To ensure smooth transportation of relief goods, the government also made a decision to treat trucks that usually deliver products to convenience stores and others as emergency vehicles.

"It will be over 35 Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas". The government mobilised 75,000 troops and emergency workers and almost 80 helicopters for the search and rescue effort, Suga said.

The government has set aside 70 billion yen ($631 million) in infrastructure funds to respond to disasters, with 350 billion yen ($3.15 billion) in reserve, Aso said, adding that an extra budget would be considered if needed.

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.