By Sommer Brokaw
Tokyo (UPI) — The death toll from record rainfall and mudslides in western Japan surpassed 100 on Monday as communities struggle to deal with the storm’s aftermath.
The extreme rainfall that Japan’s Meteorological Agency called “historic”began Thursday and continued to pummel the region through Sunday. The Meteorological Agency issued “emergency warnings” for rising rivers, strong winds and lightning strikes.
At least 116 people have died from the storm, officials said, and many are still missing. The ensuing mudslides destroyed homes and displaced tens of thousands of people, The Japan Times reported.
The floodwaters are gradually receding, but rescue operations continue Monday as authorities warn of more mudslides. The number of casualties is expected to rise as officials assess more of the damage.
In Okayama prefecture alone, more than 1,000 people became stranded on rooftops when the surging Oda River broke three dikes that held floodwaters back. Most have been rescued by boats and helicopters.
More than 267,000 homes had water outages in 11 Japanese prefectures on Sunday. At one point, officials issued evacuation orders for nearly 6 million people in 19 prefectures, Kyoda News reported. Many may still be stranded at their homes due to floods blocking access to roads.
Around 54,000 police officers, firefighters and members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and Coast Guard have been mobilized.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a special disaster response unit that number has risen to 73,000 and promised the “utmost efforts to save lives.”