Dead and 2 Million Displaced as Flood Hits Japan

People look at the swollen Kamo River in central Kyoto western Japan following heavy rain

People look at the swollen Kamo River in central Kyoto western Japan following heavy rain

Eighty-one people are now confirmed to have died with dozens more missing after torrential rainfall and landslides hit western Japan.

"Rescues, saving lives and evacuations are a race against time", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said as he met a government crisis cell set up to respond to the disaster.

"I went to my father's family home but it was hopeless", a man in submerged Kurashiki City said, according to the BBC.

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

Mr Abe said earlier that the government had dispatched 73,000 troops and emergency workers for the search and rescue effort.

"It has been three days..."

The disaster is the deadliest rain-related crisis in the country since 2014, when at least 74 people were killed in landslides caused by torrential downpours in the Hiroshima region.

5 / 5 An aerial photo taken on Saturday shows houses, roads and crops inundated by floods in Taihe County, southeastern China's Jiangxi Province.

Heavy rainfall is hammering southern Japan for the third day, prompting new disaster warnings on Kyushu and Shikoku islands as local media report the death toll has risen to 54 with 44 people missing.

Public broadcaster NHK said flooding and landslides were hindering rescue efforts and repeatedly urged people not to lose hope.

Some homes were smashed.

The nose of a white auto was just visible underneath the entire top floor of one home that had been torn from the rest of a building and swept down a hillside.

Water was still flowing from the surrounding hillsides around the feet of shellshocked residents, some of whom wept as they saw their damaged district.

In western Okayama prefecture, rescue operations were underway to evacuate several hundred people including children and the elderly from a hospital, some by helicopter.

"We've never experienced this kind of rain before", a weather official said.

The rains are the deadliest weather disaster in Japan since two typhoons that hit back-to-back in August and September 2011, killing almost 100 people.

Evacuation orders remained in place for some 2 million people and another 2.3 million were advised to evacuate, although rain had stopped and floodwaters receded in some areas.

Roads were transformed into muddy flowing rivers, with dirt piled up on either side and stranded cars barely withstanding the current flowing around their wheels.

"It was terrifying", said Kaita resident Yuichi Tada.

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