At least 85 dead, many missing as ‘historic’ rains pound Japan

A ruling party official said Prime Minister Abe had cancelled his trip to Belgium, France, Saudi Arabia and Egypt because of the disaster.

"The washing machine, refrigerator, microwave, toaster, PC - they're all destroyed", she said as she cleaned her two-story house.

"There are still many people missing and others in need of help", he told reporters.

The rain began late last week as the remnants of a typhoon fed into a seasonal rainy front, with humid, warm air pouring in from the Pacific making it still more active - a pattern similar to one that set off flooding in southwestern Japan exactly a year ago that killed dozens.

The death toll has risen to 81 after record torrential rains pummelled wide swathes of Japan since Thursday, triggering landslides and flooding, the media reported on Sunday.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the whereabouts of 92 other people were unknown, mostly in the southern area of Hiroshima prefecture. Consecutive heavy rain has affected more than 306,000 people from 24 counties in Jiangxi, causing 19,700 people to relocate and a direct economic loss of 410 million yuan (about 61 million United States dollars).

As of Monday morning, they said that 23,000 people were still staying at emergency evacuation shelters, with blazing heat now compounding the problem.

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"I'm a secondhand book seller", Ono said.

Authorities warn landslides can strike even after rain subsides as the calamity is shaping up to be potentially the worst in decades.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has called off special heavy rain warnings but continues to call for vigilance against mudslides and river flooding. Supplies such as water, blankets and cellphone chargers were provided.

In the message, Francis expressed his solidarity with all those affected, offered his encouragement to rescue crews and said he was praying for the dead and injured "and the consolation of all those who grieve".

In Okayama prefecture, rescue workers flew in helicopters over areas that are still under flood water and otherwise unreachable, looking for signs of life.

"The area became an ocean", 82-year-old resident Nobue Kakumoto said yesterday, surveying the scene.

Two sisters from an elementary school with just six students on the small island of Nuwa in Ehime prefecture also died, according to Reuters.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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