HIROSHIMA, Japan — Rescuers in southwestern Japan dug up more bodies as they searched for dozens still missing after heavy rains caused severe flooding and left residents to return to their homes unsure where to start the cleanup. More than 100 people were confirmed dead in the disaster.
Minoru Katayama, 86, rushed back to his home in Mabi city, in Okayama prefecture, and found his 88-year-old wife, Chiyoko, collapsed on the first floor. Floodwaters had started rising so fast that the elderly couple was caught by surprise.
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“My wife could not climb up the stairs, and nobody else was around to help us out,” Katayama told national broadcaster NHK. His wife, who stayed behind and let her husband flee, was among more than 20 people who were found dead in the city, where a river dike collapsed.
At a hospital in Mabi town, about 300 patients were temporarily trapped inside, but all had been safely airlifted by emergency rescue workers by early Monday.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 108 people were confirmed dead as of Monday night. Officials and media reports said at least 80 people were still unaccounted for, many of them in the hardest-hit Hiroshima area.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said as much as 10 centimeters (3 inches) of rain per hour fell on large parts of southwestern Japan. All rain warnings have been lifted.
A Hiroshima resident, Seiji Toda, took precautions because of his memories of flooding four years ago that killed more than 70 people in Hiroshima. But he was shocked and helpless when he saw his restaurant, which he opened nearly 40 years ago, filled with mud heaped about 1 meter (yards) above the floor and windows smashed. Tables, covered with clean white tablecloths before he left, were all mud-covered, chairs thrown to the floor.
“I had never seen anything like this,” he said on TBS television, standing outside his restaurant in Hiroshima city while wearing a helmet.