100+ killed as torrential rains continue in west Japan

A landslide blocks National Route No. 156 in Gujo Gifu Prefecture

A landslide blocks National Route No. 156 in Gujo Gifu Prefecture

EU President Donald Tusk offered to hold that meeting in Tokyo instead.

"There are still many people missing and others in need of help, we are working against time", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

M - almost 80 people are believed to be dead in Japan after three days of torrential rain made rivers burst their banks, Al Jazeera reported.

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.

Abe also cancelled a planned trip to Europe and the Middle East as the government stepped up rescue operations, and is reportedly arranging visits to areas hit hard by the massive flooding and landslides that began last Thursday.

Many people are still believed to be stranded inside their homes due to them not having access to roads, access roads being flooded or general flooding, local media reported Monday.

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Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said 54,000 police officers, firefighters, and members of Japan's Self-Defense Forces and coast guard had been mobilized in the rescue effort, Kyodo reported.

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"I had never seen anything like this", he said on TBS television, standing outside his restaurant in Hiroshima city while wearing a helmet.

The number of casualties is expected to rise as damage in affected areas unfolds.

TV footage showed rescuers using boats and helicopters to bring people to safety.

The agency has warned that Japan's Kinki region, which includes Kyoto, Hyogo and Osaka prefectures, could be particularly hard-hit by the downpour, escalating the risk of floods, landslides, lightning and tornadoes. Supplies such as water, blankets and cellphone chargers were provided.

Rescue workers and troops have been struggling in the mud and water to save lives.

"The area became an ocean", said 82-year-old Nobue Kakumoto, a long-time resident.

According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, as of Sunday afternoon of July 8, thousands of people had been evacuated to designated evacuation centers in 15 prefectures.