Torrential Rains Kill 141 In Japan, Say Government Sources


KURASHIKI, Japan (Reuters) - Japan struggled on Tuesday to restore utilities and bring relief to the victims of its worst floods in 36 years, facing health risks from broiling temperatures and a lack of water, while rescuers kept up an increasingly grim search for victims.

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

Suga said Abe was scheduled to visit Belgium, France, South Arabia and Egypt, beginning Wednesday.

Some residents of Mabi had shrugged off the warnings, however, given the area's history of floods.

"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.

"Why didn't I tell her to evacuate?" he said, regretting that he told his wife not to worry about the intensifying rain when he last contacted her via online messaging app Line on Friday night.

"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, in Hiroshima prefecture, has been without water since Saturday.

"It has been three days". Six people are in critical condition, and dozens are still missing, the public broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday.

More rain is expected over the next few days.

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In Kumano, soldiers and other emergency workers were using diggers to clear crushed cars and mangled homes and chainsaws to cut up tree trunks.

In the Mami-machi area of Kurashiki city, a well-known tourist area in Okayama Prefecture, the river embankment collapsed, causing about 30% of the area to flood. Rivers overflowed, landslides crushed buildings, and cars were swept away by floodwater.

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

It's the worst weather-related disaster in the country since 2011, when almost 100 people were killed by two typhoons in August and September.

Policemen remove debris during search operations for missing people in a flooded area in Asakura.

"I'm anxious there could be a significant impact on production, consumption and tourism", Toshiro Miyashita, Bank of Japan's Fukuoka branch manager, who oversees the Kyushu region, told a news conference.

"If the water level drops low enough, they may be able to access hard-hit areas by road or on foot". Authorities warned that landslides could strike even after the rain subsides. One weather official noted that the region has "never experienced this kind of rain before".

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.

Flash floods and landslides across central and western areas have sparked evacuation orders for more two million people.