Rain tapered off across the western region on Monday to reveal blue skies and a scorching sun that pushed temperatures well above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), fuelling fears of heat-stroke in areas cut off from power or water.
This is one of Japan's deadliest rain-related disasters in recent years. "There are still many people who have been unaccounted for".
"We will firmly set fiscal measures to help local governments deal fully with the emergency situation and the recovery with a sense of security", said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Prime Minister Abe announced on Monday that he has canceled a planned trip to Belgium, France, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to concentrate on the disaster relief effort.
In Kurashiki near Okayama, soldiers were deployed to carry elderly residents from their homes into waiting boats.
Rescue workers acknowledged the odds of finding people alive were getting longer. Around 1,000 people in that area are believed to be trapped on the roofs of submerged buildings. About 4,600 homes were inundated in the area, leaving 3,000 to 5,000 residents displaced. Japanese military and civil rescuers had to step in and evacuate patients and staff on boats.
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Kyodo reported that the operations at the hospital were successfully concluded on Monday, but that while the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism had mobilized pumping trucks to drain the area, it was likely to take about two weeks to complete it.
Images from Hiroshima and Kumano show houses destroyed and cars buried in mud because of landslides and flooding.
The Hiroshima area was the hardest hit, though 11 prefectures have been badly affected.
Auto manufacturers Mitsubishi and Mazda were forced to halt production at some factories because they could not get parts or did not want to force employees to travel to work in unsafe conditions, Kyodo reported.
Panasonic Corp. said it pushed back its plan to resume operations Monday at its Okayama plant producing professional video cameras as it continued to assess damage at the factory inundated by the torrential rain.
Their foundations are also made of wood, which can be ideal for flexibility in the case of earthquakes, but stand little chance of withstanding the crushing pressure produced by a torrent of flood water or a massive landslide.
Roads were closed and train services suspended in parts of western Japan.