The torrential downpours have caused flash flooding and landslides across central and western parts of the country, prompting evacuation orders for more than two million people. Officials in Kyoto prefecture say they are trying to control flooding at several dams.
"There are still many people missing and others in need of help", he told reporters. "We are keeping up our search-and-rescue work", said Mutsunari Imawaka, an official with Okayama prefecture, adding that over 1,000 people were involved in the effort in the one part of Kurashiki alone.
With much of the affected area lacking fresh water and electricity and with temperatures and humidity soaring, the dangers of dehydration and water-born infections pose new risks. There's no running water, power or food available, and it could take weeks until they can clean the place and get utility services back.
Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes, and those unable to leave took shelter on rooftops as the streets filled with water. A number of people have flocked to the evacuation centers in the city's district of Mabi. Thousands are now living in temporary shelter in school halls and gymnasiums.
Policemen check a damaged vehicle following heavy rains and flooding in Hiroshima. "We are tackling this with utmost effort".
"We want to demonstrate what we have been training for as a center for summarizing and resolving problems such as food poisoning at evacuation centers and secondary damage accompanying prolonged evacuation", said doctor Yoko So, who leads the team of public health experts.
The prime minister had planned to depart for Europe and the Middle East, but those plans reportedly have been canceled.
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The meteorological agency issued its highest level alert for two new regions on Sunday, before lifting them after rains began subsiding later on the day.
Among the missing was a 9-year-old boy believed trapped in his house by a landslide that killed at least three others, including a man in his 80s. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned of a "race against time" to rescue flood victims, with many people still unaccounted for.
Landslides have made some areas inaccessible, hampering efforts to fix essential infrastructure needed to restore power to homes.
Roads remain flooded and damaged across western Japan, with some communities still cut off. Railways have been also affected by the disastrous weather, with many bridges washed away and tracks inundated, according to local media.
The assessment of the number of injuries and deaths has been hard because of the wide area affected by the rainfall, flooding and landslides.
Cracks were found on the banks of a reservoir in Hiroshima a few days after the torrents of rain, prompting local authorities to instruct residents nearby to evacuate.
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