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TOKYO, July 14, 2018 (MENA) - About 5,900 people were still at shelters as of Friday night, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, a week after special warnings were issued in eight prefectures in western and southwestern Japan due to torrential rain, The Japan Times reported on Saturday.

The Japanese National Police Agency said that death toll from floods and landslides caused by the rain has reached 209 across 14 prefectures, and many others are still missing.

According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, evacuation orders and advisories had been issued for some 48,000 households, or roughly 109,000 people, in at least 14 prefectures.

The central government decided to disburse ¥2.1 billion from its contingency reserves to provide emergency assistance to afflicted areas.

“The government will procure such emergency supplies as water, food, air conditioners and temporary toilets, all indispensable topeople in disaster areas,” Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said.

KURASHIKI, Japan, July 12, 2018 (News Wires) - Intense heat and water shortages raised fears of disease outbreaks in flood-hit western Japan on Thursday as the death toll from the worst weather disaster in 36 years neared 200.

More than 200,000 households had no water a week after torrential rains caused floods and set off landslides across western Japan, bringing death and destruction to decades-old communities built on mountain slopes and flood plains.

The death toll rose to 195, with several dozen people still missing, the government said on Thursday.

With daily temperatures above 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) and high humidity, life in school gymnasiums and other evacuation centers, where families spread out on mats on the floors, began to take a toll.

Television footage showed one elderly woman trying to sleep by kneeling with her upper body on the seat of a folding chair, arms over her eyes to keep out the light.

With few portable fans in the evacuation centres, many survivors tried to cool themselves with paper fans.

The limited water supply meant that people are not getting enough fluids and in danger of suffering from heatstroke, authorities said. People are also reluctant to use what water they do have to wash their hands, raising fears of epidemics.

"Without water, we can't really clean anything up. We can't wash anything," one man told NHK television.

The government has sent water trucks to the disaster area, but supplies remain limited.

More than 70,000 military, police and firefighters toiled through the debris in a grim search for the missing.

Some teams shoveled dirt into sacks and piled the bags into trucks. Others used diggers and chainsaws to work through landslides and splintered buildings.

Many areas were buried deep in mud that smelled like sewage and had hardened in the heat, making the search more difficult.

Disasters set off by torrential rains have become more frequent in Japan, perhaps due to global warming, experts say. Dozens of people died after similar rains caused flooding around the same time last year.

"It's an undeniable fact that this sort of disaster due to torrential, unprecedented rain is becoming more frequent in recent years," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference in Tokyo.

"Preserving the lives and peaceful existence of our citizens is the government's biggest duty. We recognise that there's a need to look into steps we can take to reduce the damage from disasters like this even a little bit," he added.

PARIS, July 11, 2018 (News Wires)  — The veteran French actress Catherine Deneuve was awarded one of the world’s most lucrative arts prizes.

The star of such classics as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Belle de Jour, who made her name in the 1960s playing aloof, alluring beauties, is one of three French people honoured by this year’s Praemium Imperiale, which is backed by Japan’s royal family.

Deneuve, 74, sparked a worldwide feminist backlash earlier this year by defending men’s right to “hit on” women in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

She later tried to row back on an open letter attacking the #MeToo movement she co-signed in the French daily Le Monde, insisting that there was not “anything good about harassment”.

Every year five international artists are honoured with the Praemium Imperiale prize worth ¥15 million  (RM540 million).

The French Pritzker-winning architect Christian de Portzamparc, 74, was also honoured this year along with the 90-year-old Franco-Belgian surrealist artist Pierre Alechinsky, one of whose paintings now hangs in French President Emmanuel Macron’s office.

Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya, 85, famed for her fog sculptures which have misted up galleries across the world, and Italian conductor Ricardo Muti, 77, will also receive prizes from Prince Masahito, the younger brother of Emperor Akihito, at a ceremony in Tokyo on October 23.

A parallel prize for young artists went to Britain’s Shakespeare Schools Foundation, which organises the world’s largest youth drama festival.

Nearly 150 artists have been awarded the prize down the years including the late Swedish director Ingmar Bergman and US composer Leonard Bernstein.

KURASHIKI, July 11, 2018 (AFP) -- Rescue workers carried out house-to-house searches Tuesday in the increasingly unlikely hope of finding survivors after days of deadly floods and landslides that have claimed 179 lives in Japan's worst weather-related disaster for decades.

The record downpours that began last week have stopped and receding flood waters have laid bare the destruction that has cut a swathe through the west of the country.

In the city of Kurashiki, the flooding engulfed entire districts at one point, forcing some people to their rooftops to wait for rescue.

By Tuesday morning, rescue workers were going door-to-door, looking for survivors - or victims - of the disaster.

"It's what we call a grid operation, where we are checking every single house to see if there are people still trapped inside them," an official with the local Okayama prefecture government told AFP.

"We know it's a race against time, we are trying as hard as we can."

Hideto Yamanaka was leading a team of around 60 firefighters dispatched from outside the prefecture searching homes.

"I'm afraid elderly people who were living alone may have failed to escape," said Yamanaka, 53.

"Physically weak people may have been late in getting out when it suddenly started raining hard, swamping the area," he told AFP.

In the Mabi district of Kurashiki, the water left behind a fine yellow silt that has transformed the area into moonscape.

Cars driving through kicked up clouds of dust. People walking around wore medical masks or covered their mouths with small towels to protect themselves against the particulates.

Stores were still closed, and inside one barber's shop the red sofas, customer chairs, and standing hair dryers were all covered with the same silt.

Fumiko Inokuchi, 61, was inside her home, sorting through the damage caused by floods that submerged the entire first floor.

She escaped the house on Saturday, crossing the street to take shelter in a three-storey care home for the elderly, from where she watched in horror as the waters rose.

"I saw my house sink underwater and I couldn't do anything at all, there was just nothing I could do. I felt helpless," she said, retrieving a photo of her children playing baseball.

"I got married here, and we built this house two years afterwards. We raised our three small sons to adulthood here, there are so many memories," she said, her eyes welling with tears.
 
New dangers from heat
 
The crisis is the deadliest weather-related disaster in over three decades, and has sparked national grief.

On Monday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cancelled a four-stop foreign trip as the death toll rose, and he will visit Okayama on Wednesday.

Top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday that at least 156 people had been killed. Media said dozens more remained missing and the tally was expected to rise further.

Around 75,000 police, firemen and troops have been deployed in the search and rescue operation across parts of central and western Japan, Suga said, warning that hot weather posed new risks.

Thousands of people remain in shelters, and local authorities in some areas were offering drinking water and bathing services for those without their own supply.

"It will be over 35 Celsius in some areas... Please be careful about heatstroke if you're doing reconstruction outdoors, and continue to be vigilant about landslides," Suga said.

The government said it would tap around $20 million in reserve funds to provide aid to those affected by the disaster.

And even with the rains over, the risk of flooding remained, with the town of Fuchu in Hiroshima issuing a new evacuation order as a local river burst its banks.

"Driftwood and dirt has piled up... and now the water has started overflowing from the river," a spokesman for the local fire department told AFP. "We are on high alert," he added.

In Ehime prefecture, authorities said they were struggling to get emergency food and water to some cut-off areas.

"We are sending them by boat and air routes," said Yoshinobu Katsuura, a spokesman for the prefecture's disaster management department.
"It will take a lot of time to see devastated areas recover."

TOKYO, July 10, 2018 (News Wires) - The death toll in record rains that have devastated parts of Japan with flooding and landslides rose on Tuesday to 156, the top government spokesman said.

Search-and-rescue operations are continuing after the worst weather-related disaster in Japan in over three decades, with dozens of people still believed missing.

CAIRO, July 9, 2018 (MENA) - President Abdel Fattah El Sisi expressed his own and the Egyptian people's sincere condolences over the victims of rains and floods that have hit Japan.

The rains and floods in Japan have left scores dead and wounded, while many were displaced.

Spokesman for the presidency Bassam Rady said that this came in a telephone call Sisi received from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Both sides discussed ways of boosting bilateral relations, as Abe hailed the relations as friendly and deep-rooted, stressing his country's keenness to boost joint cooperation between the two countries in all fields.

In addition, the two sides tackled a number of regional and international issues of common interest, as both sides agreed to continue coordination and consultation between both countries during the coming period.

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