Japan floods: record rainfall kills dozens in Hiroshima and Kyoto

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Japan floods: record rainfall kills dozens in Hiroshima and Kyoto

At least 37 people were confirmed dead as rescue workers frantically searched July 7 for dozens of people missing in heavy rains that have inundated western Japan since early in the week, as more rainfall is forecast.

Record-breaking torrential rains struck western Japan, causing at least 44 deaths and leaving dozens injured.

The government issued an evacuation order for around 164,000 people on Friday in the western region of Kansai alone, Japanese media report.

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

In Kyoto's Arashiyama district, the Togetsukyo bridge, a popular tourist site that crosses the Katsura River and offers great views of the surrounding mountains in the autumn and winter months, reopened at noon Saturday after having been closed due worries about floodwaters caused by torrential rains that pounded the area.

Rivers from Hokkaido to Kyushu have been reported as running at above flood warning levels and the weather agency has warned of further landslides possibly being triggered by the record-levels of rainfall.

As many as 143,000 people were ordered to evacuate Kyoto prefecture and 9,700 others in Osaka prefecture due to an escalating risk of mudslides, officials said.

In Motoyama, a town in Shikoku island, 583 millimetres of rain fell in the 24 hours between Friday and Saturday mornings, the Meteorological Agency said. "I was scared, thinking what would become of me".

In Hiroshima Prefecture, 41 people were missing, while seven remained out of contact in Ehime Prefecture.

In Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, a woman in her 30s and her two children were feared dead after a mudslide hit their home.

Television footage showed a residential area in Okayama prefecture seeped in brown. Wide parts of the expressway were covered with soil and landslide debris in the north of the island, the Kyodo news agency reported. On Saturday, rescue workers transferred them to safety, by carrying them through swiftly flowing dark waters.

The heavy rain also affected business operations, with major manufacturers suspending production and retailers closing stores.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said it had halted operations at its plant in Okayama Prefecture as it was unable to procure parts, while Daihatsu Motor Co., a minivehicle making unit of Toyota Motor Corp., said it had suspended production at two plants in Osaka and Kyoto as parts had not arrived.

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