Race for survivors after Japan’s floods

By AAP Newswire

Rescuers in Japan are digging through mud and rubble in a race to find survivors after torrential rains unleashed widespread floods and landslides that killed nearly 100 people with dozens still missing.

Rain is now easing across the western region which was battered by last week's downpour, revealing blue skies with scorching sun forecast to push temperatures above 30C amid fears of heatstroke with many areas cut off from power and water.

"We cannot take baths, the toilet doesn't work and our food stockpile is running low," Yumeko Matsui, whose home in the city of Mihara has been without water since Saturday, said.

"Bottled water and bottled tea are all gone from convenience stores and other shops."

About 12,700 residents had no electricity on Monday, power companies said, while tens of thousands are without water, according to Japanese media.

The death toll from the rains reached at least 94 after floodwaters forced several million people from their homes, NHK national television said, the highest toll since 98 people were killed in a typhoon in 2004.

Another 58 were missing, NHK added.

Industry operations have also been hit, with Mazda Motor Corp saying it was forced to close its head office in Hiroshima on Monday.

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 cannot receive components, though both were undamaged.

Refineries and oil terminals were not affected, but blocked roads limited access to one Showa Shell oil terminal in the city, causing gas and diesel shortages nearby.

At one landslide in Hiroshima, shattered piles of lumber marked the sites of former homes, television images showed. Others had been tossed upside down.

"Nobody's heard from my next door neighbour," one man told NHK. "I hope they find him soon."

Water still swirled through most of the hard-hit city of Kurashiki, despite ebbing floods that opened the route to a hospital where nearly 100 patients and staff had been stranded on Sunday.

Thousands flocked to evacuation centres in the city's district of Mabi.

"Nobody has anything to wear. We need shirts, trousers, underwear, socks and even shoes," its mayor, Kaori Ito, told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.