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Japan tackles rescue, cleanup from massive damage from rain

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In this July 7, 2018, file photo, a resident is rescued in a flooded area in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, following heavy rains. Heavy rainfall hamm...
Debris fills a small village following heavy rains Sunday, July 8, 2018, in Kuchita-Minami, Asakita-ku, Hiroshima, Japan. Searches continued Sunday ni...
Houses are partly submerged in water, following heavy rain in Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July 8, 2018. Heavy rain...
Residents clean up near a house damaged by heavy rain in Soja city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July 8, 2018. Heavy rainfall hamme...
Rescuers on boats head for search in the partly submerged area in water after heavy rain in Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Su...
Houses are partly submerged houses in water from heavy rains, in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July 8, 2018. Heavy rainfa...
Water is drained from partly submerged residential area following heavy rain in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July 8, 201...
Houses are flooded, following heavy rain in Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July 8, 2018. Heavy rainfall hammered sout...
In this Sunday, July 8, 2018, file photo, residents look at half submerged houses in floodwater from heavy rains, in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, so...
Elderly people are rescued on boat as the city is flooded following heavy rain in Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July...
Houses are damaged by mudslide following heavy rains in Kure city, Hiroshima prefecture, southwestern Japan, Saturday, July 7, 2018. Heavy rainfall ha...

In this July 7, 2018, file photo, a resident is rescued in a flooded area in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, following heavy rains. Heavy rainfall hamm...

Debris fills a small village following heavy rains Sunday, July 8, 2018, in Kuchita-Minami, Asakita-ku, Hiroshima, Japan. Searches continued Sunday ni...

Houses are partly submerged in water, following heavy rain in Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July 8, 2018. Heavy rain...

Residents clean up near a house damaged by heavy rain in Soja city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July 8, 2018. Heavy rainfall hamme...

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

Houses are partly submerged houses in water from heavy rains, in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July 8, 2018. Heavy rainfa...

Water is drained from partly submerged residential area following heavy rain in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July 8, 201...

Houses are flooded, following heavy rain in Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July 8, 2018. Heavy rainfall hammered sout...

In this Sunday, July 8, 2018, file photo, residents look at half submerged houses in floodwater from heavy rains, in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, so...

Elderly people are rescued on boat as the city is flooded following heavy rain in Kurashiki city, Okayama prefecture, southwestern Japan, Sunday, July...

Houses are damaged by mudslide following heavy rains in Kure city, Hiroshima prefecture, southwestern Japan, Saturday, July 7, 2018. Heavy rainfall ha...

HIROSHIMA, Japan (AP) — People are preparing for risky search and cleanup efforts in southwestern Japan, where several days of heavy rainfall had set off flooding and landslides in a widespread area. Japanese media reports said 88 people died and 58 people are missing.

Some residents in Hiroshima prefecture said they were caught off guard in a region not used to torrents of rainfall, which began Friday and worsened through the weekend. Rivers overflowed, turning towns into lakes, leaving dozens of people stranded on rooftops. Military paddle boats and helicopters were bringing people to dry land.

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