Japan floods and landslides death toll reaches 176

Severe rainfall leaves dozens dead in Japan

Since Thursday, parts of western Japan have received three times the usual rainfall for the whole of July.

More than 200,000 households had no water a week after torrential rains caused floods and set off landslides across western Japan, bringing death and destruction to decades-old communities built on mountain slopes and flood plains.

Following smaller-scale floods in recent years, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has now pledged begun drafts for planning procedures. "It was heavier rain than four years ago".

On Wednesday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said another nine people are missing. The Mihara city government aims to resume operation of the intake facility on Monday.

Television footage showed dozens of rescuers, including troops, removing massive rocks with mechanical diggers from houses buried in landslides.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has called off special heavy rain warnings but continues to call for vigilance against mudslides and river flooding.

Thousands of homes were still without clean water and electricity. Tight water supplies meant that people were not getting enough fluids and in danger of suffering from heat-stroke, the authorities said.

"What we are getting is a thin stream of water, and we can't flush toilets or wash our hands", he added, standing over a 20-litre (4.4-gallon) plastic tank that was only partly filled after nearly four hours of waiting.

Abe also said that to address food and water shortages in some of the disaster areas, trucks carrying food and water stocks to retail stores, including convenience stores, will be considered emergency vehicles.

"There are still many people missing and others in need of help", the prime minister told reporters on Sunday. He is set to visit two other hard-hit areas on Friday and the weekend.

More than 70,000 military, police and firefighters toiled through the debris in a search for bodies.

Work under the scorching sun was hampered by mud and heat, and shipments of relief goods were delayed by damaged roads and transportation systems, especially in areas isolated by the disaster.

A man with a shovel walks on a damaged road in a flood-hit area in Okayama prefecture earlier this week.

"Since supplies have been given by people nationwide, we want to deliver them swiftly to accommodate the needs of evacuation centers", the official said.

Abe, who cancelled an overseas trip to deal with the disaster, has been criticised after a photograph circulated on Twitter showing him and his defence minister at a party with lawmakers just as the rains intensified.

A government task force was established to speed up recovery to the worst affected areas.

KURASHIKI, Japan (Reuters) - Japan struggled on Tuesday to restore utilities after its worst weather disaster in 36 years killed 155 people, with survivors facing health risks from broiling temperatures and a lack of water, while rescuers kept up a grim search for victims.

Some residents of Mabi had shrugged off the warnings given the area's history of floods. Portable fans turned slowly here and there as children shrieked.

"We've never experienced this kind of rain before", a weather official said.

In Uwajima, Ehime Prefecture, a water purification plant was damaged by mudflows.

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