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More Than 175 People Have Died In Japan's Record-Breaking Rains

It is the worst weather-related disaster to hit the country in decades.

Last updated on July 11, 2018, at 6:33 p.m. ET

Posted on July 9, 2018, at 1:42 a.m. ET

Issei Kato / Reuters

A resident walks in front of submerged and destroyed houses in a flooded area in Mabi town in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture.

More than 175 people have died or are presumed dead in southwestern Japan in torrential downpours that have caused flooding and landslides in the area since this weekend.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that 176 people are confirmed dead, according to the Associated Press.

Since Thursday, parts of southwestern Japan have received three times as much rain as the area usually sees in July, the BBC reported.

Kyodo / Reuters

A broken riverbank is seen after heavy rain in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture.

As many as 2 million people were ordered to evacuate, after the rains sent off rushing floodwaters and mudslides, catching many residents off guard. The heavy downpour destroyed roads and caused rivers to overflow, leaving many people stranded.

Helicopters rescued as many as 1,000 people who climbed to the roofs of their submerged homes after three dikes burst on a nearby river, according to Japan Times. Members of the military were also seen bringing people to dry land on paddle boats.

Martin Bureau / AFP / Getty Images

People inspect their damaged homes in a flood hit area in Mabi, Okayama prefecture on July 10.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday that rescuers were "working against time," according to the BBC. "There are still many people missing and others in need of help."

Though the rain stopped on Monday, subsequent high temperatures have hampered rescue and relief efforts, as emergency workers struggled to comb through mud and debris to find those still missing. Many residents were still without power or utilities Tuesday, and relied on relief workers to bring in fresh water supplies.

The Japanese Red Cross said in a statement sent to BuzzFeed News that they have been assisting in the recovery efforts, although damaged roads have made it hard to reach people. So far, they have distributed 6,500 blankets, and 7,000 kits to people in evacuation shelters.

Issei Kato / Reuters

Japan Self-Defense Forces soldiers rescue people from a flooded area in Mabi town in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.‏

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.