Japan floods, landslides leave more than 80 dead, dozens missing

Authorities in Japan continued desperate searches on Sunday for victims of flooding and landslides spawned by record rainfall as storms continue to hammer the southern part of the country.

Government officials told Japanese public broadcaster NHK that at least 85 people have been killed in the floods since Thursday, and at least 58 are reported missing.

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

The worst hit region by the flood was in the southern area of Hiroshima prefecture, where a landslide struck a public housing complex in Hiroshima City and inundated about 20 buildings, according to NHK.

Rescuers on boats head for search in the partly submerged area in water after heavy rain in Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July 8, 2018.

Rescuers on boats head for search in the partly submerged area in water after heavy rain in Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July 8, 2018. (Koji Harada/Kyodo News via AP)

A woman who was reported as missing after getting trapped in her car was found but was pronounced dead, Kyodo news service reported. In another area in Hiroshima, 12 people went missing when a residential area got sucked into a landslide, and one body was later found.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said three hours of rainfall in one area in Kochi prefecture reached an accumulated 10.4 inches, the highest since such records started in 1976, the Associated Press reported.

Public broadcaster NHK TV showed overturned cars on roads covered with mud and buildings with water almost up to rooftops.

A broken embankment is seen in front in flooded Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, following heavy rain, Sunday, July 8, 2018

A broken embankment is seen in front in flooded Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, following heavy rain, Sunday, July 8, 2018 (Shohei Miyano/Kyodo News via AP)

The assessment of casualties has been difficult because of the widespread area affected by the rainfall, flooding and landslides. Authorities warned that landslides could strike even after rain subsides as the calamity shaped up to be potentially the worst in decades.

DEATH TOLL CLIMBS AS HEAVY RAINS HAMMER SOUTHERN JAPAN

At one point, evacuation orders were issued for up to 5.9 million people and over 30,000 were forced into shelters as of Sunday, Kyodo News Service reported.

People who are stranded at a flooded hospital are rescued following heavy rain in Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July 8, 2018.

People who are stranded at a flooded hospital are rescued following heavy rain in Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July 8, 2018. (Shohei Miyano/Kyodo News via AP)

Throughout the hard-hit areas, rivers swelled and parked cars sat in pools of water. Japan has sent troops, firefighters, police and other disaster relief.

The compound of a junior high school is flooded after heavy rains in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Saturday, July 7, 2018.

The compound of a junior high school is flooded after heavy rains in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Saturday, July 7, 2018. (Koji Harada/Kyodo News via AP)

The Japanese government has set up an emergency office, designed for crises such as major earthquakes. Military paddle boats were also being used to take people to dry land.

Officials are also warning that when the water recedes, infrastructure across the region such as road and rail lines have been seriously damaged by the flooding. Mazda Motor Corp. said that it is suspending operations at two factories in the area over the uncertainty of supply of auto parts and the safety of workers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.