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76 killed as heavy rains hammer southern Japan

TOKYO (AP) – Heavy rainfall ham­mered southern Japan for the third day, prompting new disaster warn­ings on Kyushu and Shikoku islands yesterday, as the government put the death toll at 48 with 28 others presumed dead.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the whereabouts of 92 people are unknown, mostly in the southern area of Hiroshima pre­fecture.

More than 100 reports of casual­ties had been received, such as cars being swept away, he said. Some 40 helicopters were out on rescue mis­sions.

“Rescue efforts are a battle with time,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters. “The rescue teams are do­ing their utmost.”

The Japan Meteorological Agency said three hours of rainfall in one area in Kochi prefecture reached an accumulated 10.4 inches, the highest since such records started in 1976.

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