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Rescuers were in a pitched battle with time to save dozens of people still missing 72 hours after torrential rains first began to hit parts of western Japan, sparking flooding and landslides that left at least 128 people dead, reported The Japan Times.
Search efforts continued in hardest-hit Hiroshima and Okayama prefectures, as well as their neighboring areas despite the elapse of the crucial 72-hour period, after which the odds of finding survivors decreases significantly.
The record downpours triggered a number of mudslides and flooded homes across a wide swath of the region from Friday afternoon to early Saturday, pushing the death toll to the highest by a rain-related in Japan since 1982.
More than 20 people died in the city of Kurashiki, in Okayama Prefecture, after river dikes collapsed, inundating around 4,600 homes.
Rescuers continued to hunt for people stranded in their homes while searching flooded areas that had yet to be drained.
They also stepped up search efforts in Hiroshima Prefecture, the scene of massive landslides that left dozens dead and multiple people still unaccounted for.
Scorching heat that followed the rains also began to take a toll on the health of evacuees, with many unable to take showers or make their way to hospitals for much-needed medicines.
At an elementary school in the Mabicho area of Kurashiki, where some 200 people have taken shelter, more than 10 large electric fans were operating amid the hot weather.
“My body is sticky because I haven’t taken a bath and I left my glasses behind and can’t see anything,” said a woman in her 70s, who was rescued by Self-Defense Forces personnel after being found trapped in her home in water up to her chest.
During a meeting of the government’s crisis response unit in Tokyo on Tuesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to swiftly provide emergency relief by dipping into reserve funds and bypassing requests from local governments.
“We will assess the needs of victims and push for quick reconstruction,” Abe vowed.
To address food and water shortages in disaster-hit areas, Abe said trucks ferrying supplies to convenience stores and other retailers will be treated as emergency vehicles.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference the same day that the government is expected to direct the roughly ¥2 billion in reserve funds to the relief effort that includes the procurement of water, food, air conditioning and portable toilets.
Abe said at a separate meeting Tuesday that he will visit Okayama Prefecture on Wednesday to see the damage first-hand and discuss directly with the municipalities their needs.
Although the government has yet to get a firm handle on the extent of the damage, some 347 homes were totally or partially destroyed and 9,868 homes were flooded as of Tuesday morning, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
The figures are expected to rise substantially since municipal authorities have yet to finish assessing the scale of the damage.
About 51,000 homes were cut off from electricity in six prefectures and some 269,672 homes suffered water outages in 12 prefectures in western Japan as of Monday evening, the government said.
The downpours have also hit businesses, though some companies have already resumed suspended operations.
Daihatsu Motor Co., a minivehicle-making unit of Toyota Motor Corp., rebooted operations at all its plants Tuesday including those in disaster-hit Kyoto and Osaka prefectures, although it said it could still halt them depending on parts procurement.
Meanwhile, farm equipment manufacturer Kubota Corp. said it had restarted operations at its Hyogo plant, which had been flooded by the heavy rains.
show source https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/07/10/national/rescuers-race-time-western-japan-flood-death-toll-rises-least-128/#.W0RXxdUzbDc