Desperate rescue efforts as Japan rains toll hits 75

Rescue workers, police and troops in Japan battled Monday to reach people feared trapped by devastating flooding and landslides after days of record rainfall killed at least 75 people.

As the rains finally began to ease, the government said several dozen more people remain missing.

And the death toll was expected to rise further, with local media reporting nearly 90 people killed and over 50 others unaccounted for.

The rains are the deadliest weather disaster in Japan since two typhoons that hit back-to-back in August and September 2011, killing nearly 100 people.

By Monday morning, the downpours had mostly ended across the worst-affected parts of central and western Japan, where entire villages were engulfed by flood waters or sudden landslides.

The meteorological agency downgraded its alerts for affected areas, but authorities warned that the risk of fresh landslides caused by rain-loosened earth remained high.

In the town of Kumano in Hiroshima prefecture, rescue workers were still digging through the dirt of a landslide that enveloped homes over the weekend, crushing some into little more than scrap wood.

Desperate family members of missing locals waited nearby for word of their relatives.

The nose of a white car was just visible underneath the entire top floor of one home that had been torn from the rest of a building and swept down a hillside.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned Sunday that rescue workers faced a “race against time” to reach people who remained trapped.

More than 54,000 emergency workers, police and troops have been deployed to help people, with the Self Defense Forces dispatching several planes to help airlift residents to safety.

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