TOKYO, Japan - After historic levels of rainfall, that caused devastating floods and landslides in Japan, the death toll rose dramatically, with authorities claiming on Monday that over 100 people had been killed.
After the worst floods witnessed in the country in 35 years, the top spokesman of the Japanese government said on Monday that the number of deaths in days of devastating rains had risen to 114.
On Monday, as the weather cleared a little, rescuers began desperate efforts to find over 60 people that remain unaccounted for.
In several areas, as floodwater receded, rescue teams dug through landslides that left swathes of central and western Japan under water.
Rescuers even made efforts to reach remove areas and areas that previously remained cut-off, in a bid to find more bodies that were buried in the wreckage of several buildings.
Over the weekend, rivers engorged by over three feet of rain burst their banks and engulfed entire villages, forcing people to rooftops to await evacuation by helicopter.
Further, hillsides gave way under the weight of water and deadly landslides crushed wooden houses and destroyed roads.
As temperatures rose on Monday and rescue operations began, officials warned that the death toll would rise further.
Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said, "A total of 73,000 police, fire department, Self-Defence Forces and Japan Coast Guard personnel, with 700 helicopters, are doing their best as part of the rescue effort.”
Meanwhile, reports noted that in Kumano, soldiers and other emergency workers were using diggers to clear crushed cars and mangled homes.
Entire towns were erased in the floods and landslides and local officials said that water was still flowing from the surrounding hillsides.
Rescue workers in neighbouring Okayama prefecture flew in helicopters over areas that are still submerged, looking for signs of life.
Later on Monday, local government officials were quoted as saying that pumping trucks were being deployed to help restore access to some of the worst-hit areas.
A spokeswoman at the disaster control office in Okayama prefecture said, "Rescuers had to go by boat yesterday due to flooding but the water is gradually receding today. If the water level drops low enough, they may be able to access hard-hit areas by road or on foot."
In Mihara town, entire roads were converted into muddy rivers and dirt was piled up on either side as flood water gushed around the wheels of stranded cars.
Further, local authorities warned survivors of possible landslides, pointing out that the intense downpours had loosened earth on hillsides and mountain slopes creating new risks.
Authorities said that many people were stuck in modestly equipped shelters with few possessions, or had been living in damaged homes with no running water or electricity - pointing out that the rising temperatures posed a new problem.
In some remote affected areas, food and water was in short supply.