At least 176 people have been killed in landslides in Japan — and officials are warning that new landslides could be triggered

An aerial view shows local residents seen on the roof of submerged house at a flooded area as they wait for a rescue in Kurashiki, southern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 7, 2018.

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An aerial view shows local residents seen on the roof of submerged house at a flooded area as they wait for a rescue in Kurashiki, southern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 7, 2018.
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Kyodo/Reuters

  • At least 176 people have been killed and millions have been evacuated from areas affected by landslides in western Japan.
  • Rescuers are continuing to search for people as many are believed to be trapped in their homes amid heavy flooding.
  • This is the highest death toll caused by rainfall that Japan has seen in decades.
  • Authorities have warned that new landslides could be triggered by thunderstorms and intensifying heat gripping the country.
  • Authorities on Sunday ordered evacuations for up to 5.9 million people in 19 nearby prefectures.

At least 176 people have been killed and millions have been evacuated from areas affected by landslides in western Japan.

Record rainfall began Thursday and continued over the weekend, pounding western and central prefectures. Officials say at least 176 people have died and dozens more are still missing, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Authorities have warned that new landslides could be triggered by thunderstorms and intensifying heat gripping the country.

This is the highest death toll caused by rainfall that Japan has seen in decades.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government pledged an initial $4 billion towards relief efforts on Tuesday, and have offered an additional special budget if needed.

Rescuers are continuing to search for people stranded by the flooding and landslides, and many people are believed to be trapped in their homes.

Photos have emerged of people trapped on rooftops and others being rescued by boat from buildings submerged by floodwaters.

Authorities on Sunday ordered evacuations for up to 5.9 million people in 19 nearby prefectures, The Japan Times reported. 30,000 people had taken refuge in evacuation centers on Sunday afternoon, according to Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

“Rescue efforts are a battle with time,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters on Sunday. “The rescue teams are doing their utmost.”

Several businesses continued to be affected by flooding, including automaker Mazda Motor Corp. and Daihatsu Motor Co., which suspended factory operations in Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Yamaguchi, the Times added.