World Media

15 dead, 50 reported missing as heavy floods hit Japan

The swollen Kamo River is seen following heavy rain near the Sanjo Ohashi Bridge in Kyoto

The death toll from unprecedented rains in Japan rose to at least 62 on Sunday (July 8) as widespread flooding forced several million from their homes, with more rain set to hit some areas for at least another day.

Japan's Meteorological Agency issued special weather warnings, advising vigilance against landslides, rising rivers and strong winds, and called the heavy rain "historic".

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said 54,000 personnel from the police, fire departments, the Self-Defense Forces and the Japan Coast Guard have been mobilized for rescue work.

In a wide area of southwestern Japan to western Japan, rivers were swollen and overflowing, and bridges were washed away, while transport was disrupted, with shinkansen bullet train services suspended in most parts of western Japan. Several more people were missing, including one whose auto was swept away as he delivered milk in the early morning hours, NHK national television said.

This picture shows an aerial view of flooded houses in Saka Town, Hiroshima Prefecture on July 7, 2018.

In Ehime prefecture, a woman was found dead on the second floor of a home buried by a landslide, Kyodo said.

NTT Docomo Inc. said cell reception in areas from Kyoto to Hiroshima was impacted, the newspaper reported.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered his ministers to "make an all-out effort" to rescue victims, saying: "The situation is extremely serious".

"The situation is extremely risky", wrote a Twitter user in Kochi, a city on the smallest main island of Shikoku, where the rain has been especially intense.

In August 2014, 77 people died in Hiroshima when torrential rain triggered massive landslides, but one resident told Kyodo the rains were heavier this time.

"We are also looking after evacuees and restoring lifeline infrastructure like water and gas", he added.

Most of the deaths have occurred in Hiroshima prefecture, which has been hit by torrential rain since Thursday. "Rescue us quickly. Help us".

The Japan Meteorological Agency upgraded its alert system to the highest level-only issued when the amount of rain is expected to be the highest in decades-in large areas of western Japan, while lifting the warning in other regions.

In the city of Kyoto, a rise in the water level of the Kamo River running through the city's central area led authorities to prohibit people from entering its riverside promenade, known as one of the city's sightseeing spots.