Rescue workers late Sunday continued searching for victims ofmudslides triggered by three days of torrential rainfall thatleft at least 100 people dead or presumed dead in southwestern Japan.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference Monday that 68 people were unaccounted for, many of them in the hardest-hit Hiroshima area.
Suga said 87 people are confirmed dead and 13 others had no vital signs when they were found as of early Monday.
The Meteorological Agency issued rare “emergency warnings” after “historic” rains across central and western Japan led to rising rivers and landslides.
“Rescue efforts are a battle with time,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters. “The rescue teams are doing their utmost.”
Officials said more than 26.3 centimeters (10 inches) of rain fell within three hours in Kochi prefecture, the highest since such record-keeping began in 1976.
More than 1.3 million people have been orders to evacuate their homes. Another 3.1 million were put on high alert, being warned they may also have to evacuate.
About 48,000 firefighters, police officers and military forces responded to dozens of landslides and other emergency situations,Suga said.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said another 21,000 troops were on standby.
Television footage showed a wooden bridge being swept away by a swollen river in Hiroshima and victims being airlifted into a helicopter from houses in a flooded area.
As residents sought refuge from the landslides, manufacturing giants like Mitsubishi and Mazda were forced to halt operations in some plants, as the flood disrupted supply chains and risked workers’ safety.
Saturday evening, a powerful earthquake struck south of the Japanese capital of Tokyo, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The 5.9-magnitude temblor caused some buildings in the city to shake, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.