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    Many in Japan without power, water after floods as death toll increases to 176

    Japan’s government says 176 people have been confirmed dead after last week’s heavy rains in western Japan as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits a hard-hit city.
    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that Abe would visit an evacuation centre in Kurashiki, a city where a river broke through an embankment and swept through residential areas, killing more than 40 people.

    Tens of thousands of rescue and recovery workers and volunteers are digging through the debris, as the search for dozens still missing enters its fifth day.

    Record-setting rainfall caused severe flooding and landslides, toppling and burying homes across a wide area. Most of the deaths were in Hiroshima and the surrounding area.

    Akira Tanimoto says his apartment narrowly survived the floods and mudslide at his residential complex over the weekend, and even if he wants to go back there with his wife and two pet birds, he can’t because there is no water, power or food available.

    After their desperate run from floods that had hit the apartment complex where about a dozen of his neighbours were found dead, he returned to his place Monday to check on his apartment, which was almost intact. He also had to bring with him his beloved birds, which he initially had to leave behind.
    Tanimoto wants to go back there with his wife, Chieko, and their yellow and green parakeets, Pi-chan and Kyako-chan, but said it would take a few weeks until they get the utility services back and clean the place.
    “I can’t go back if I wanted to,” the 66-year-old retired Self-Defence serviceman said, holding a bird cage, in which the birds chirped as he spoke. “Electricity is out, water is cut off and there is no information there.”
    At Tanimoto’s apartment complex, about a dozen victims have been found. He and his wife grabbed the minimum necessities and walked about 1.5 kilometres to a fire engine Sunday after the floods and mudslides hit the complex. Debris and mudslides had stopped right outside the couple’s apartment door.
    Tanimoto thinks he and his wife are the lucky ones. “Some of our neighbours had their apartments destroyed, others are still looking for their families. So we are lucky. Our parakeets even survived,” he said.

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