Death toll from Japan rains rises to 57

More than one million at risk as heavy rains hammer Japan

More than one million at risk as heavy rains hammer Japan

There have been no reported South African casualties among the at least 48 people who have been killed by flash floods and landslides in Japan following torrential downpours which started on Thursday.

Authorities have warned that landslides could strike even if the rainfall diminishes.

The government plans to mobilize pumper trucks to drain the water but it may take two weeks to fully drain, Kyodo News agency reported. "We'd like people to pay close attention to evacuation advisories and other information", he told the news conference.

"There are still many people missing and others in need of help, we are working against time", Mr Abe said yesterday morning.

The special warnings, issued when a once-in-decades disaster looks imminent, were maintained for Kyoto, Hyogo and Okayama prefectures, all in the western region, and newly issued in Gifu Prefecture, central Japan, early Saturday afternoon.

"We are carrying out rescue operations around the clock", Yoshihide Fujitani, a disaster management official in Hiroshima prefecture, told AFP.

Responding to the tragedy, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty tweeted, "Deeply saddened to hear of the lives lost due to heavy rains and flooding in Western Japan".

Yamaguchi prefecture, another area hit by the heavy rain, alerted people to heed evacuation warnings and act quickly.

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In Seiyo in Ehime Prefecture, five people were confirmed dead due to the torrential rain, including people swept away in a auto.

The automaker, which suspended operations at several plants because of the rains last week, said the halt would continue at two plants until Tuesday, as it can not receive components, though both were undamaged.

The toll has risen steadily since then, and the conditions have made rescue operations hard, with some desperate citizens taking to Twitter to call for help.

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.

Japan's meteorological agency has issued its highest-level warning for affected areas and said that as much as...

The death toll is the highest caused by water disasters since 2014 when 77 people were killed in heavy rain which set off landslides in Hiroshima in western Japan.

More than 50,000 members of the self-defence force, police officers, firefighters and coastguard personnel, aided by helicopters and paddle boats, were trying to rescue people from buildings, some of them stranded on rooftops just metres above the waterline.

"The rescue and lifesaving operation is now a race against the clock", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

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