Japan: Death Toll Touches 81, Dozens Missing After Torrential Rains

The swollen Kamo River is seen following heavy rain near the Sanjo Ohashi Bridge in Kyoto

The swollen Kamo River is seen following heavy rain near the Sanjo Ohashi Bridge in Kyoto

Desperate relatives braced for bad news Monday as rescuers dug through landslides in the wake of severe floods that have killed 100 people and left swathes of central and western Japan under water.

PHUKET, Thailand - Thailand's government pledged Sunday to ensure justice for Chinese victims of a tour boat that sank last week in a storm off the southern resort island of Phuket, killing 42 people and leaving another 14 missing.

About 48,000 emergency responders from the police, fire department and defense forces are participating in the search-and-rescue operations, as per media reports.

Temperature of up to 55.9 degrees Celsius was recorded in one city in Oita Prefecture, and Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) has warned those staying in or providing emergency relief in evacuation shelters to be wary of heatstroke.

"There are still many people whose safety has yet to be confirmed", he added.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe canceled an overseas trip because of the disaster, a ruling party source said.

By Sunday evening, 2.5 million people in 15 prefectures were still under evacuation orders.

Television footage showed bridges and cars washed away by raging rivers and flood waters, with people perched on the roofs of their homes, surrounded by water and awaiting rescue.

In Okayama prefecture, rescue workers flew in helicopters over areas that are still under flood water and otherwise unreachable, looking for signs of life.

In the town of Uwajima in Ehime Prefecture, a 63-year-old man was buried alive in his house due to landslides. A nine-year-old boy was among the dead and 78 people were missing, NHK said.

Industry operations have also been hit, with Mazda Motor Corp saying it was forced to close its head office in Hiroshima on Monday.

Evacuation orders are in place for almost 2 million people, with 276,000 households without water and TV footage showing supermarkets with bare shelves in many affected regions.

While the Japanese government monitors weather conditions closely and issues warnings from an early stage, the fact that much of the country outside major cities is mountainous and building takes place on virtually every bit of usable land leaves it vulnerable to disasters.

The rains crippled transportation networks, with bus and train services partly or completely shut down in 15 prefectures.

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