In Brief

Record rainfall in Japan leaves 81 people dead

Death toll continues to rise after flash flooding and landslides

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

Torrential rain began to fall a week ago as the remnants of a typhoon fed into a seasonal rainy front. It set off flash flooding and landslides with flooded rivers trapping many people in the houses or on rooftops.

However, it is the speed at which the rain moved in that has caught authorities off guard.

Reuters reports that more than 54,000 rescuers from the military, police and fire departments were dispatched across a wide swath of western and southwestern Japan, with the country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, warning that rescue workers faced a “race against time”.

In hard-hit western Japan, emergency services and military personnel used helicopters and boats to rescue people from swollen rivers and buildings, including a hospital, with some patients lifted out still in their pyjamas. Bullet train services have also been suspended in most parts of western Japan.

Evacuation orders are in place for nearly 2 million people, with 276,000 households without water and TV footage showing supermarkets with bare shelves in many affected regions.

With many people still missing, the final death toll is expected to exceed the 98 people killed in a typhoon in 2004.

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