Over 120 people have died in Japan as a result of torrential rain which caused serious flooding and landslides in the south-west of the country.

It is the heaviest rainfall Japan has seen for decades. Since last Thursday, areas in south-western Japan have received three times the usual rainfall for the whole of July.

The torrential downpour was sparked by a typhoon last week. Since then two million people have been ordered to evacuate with landslide warnings issued in many prefectures.

Many buildings have collapsed and large areas of the country are covered in mud and debris while rivers have overflowed, turning towns into lakes with people stranded on rooftops.

Up to 70,000 rescuer workers from the military, police and fire departments have been dispatched across western and south-western Japan in hopes of finding the dozens of people still missing.

Military paddle boats and helicopters are being used to bring people to dry land.

Residents in Hiroshima prefecture said they were caught off guard by the ferocity of the rainfall.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said one area in Kochi prefecture had recorded 263mm of rain in three hours, the highest since such records started in 1976.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cancelled his planned July 11 to 18 trip to Europe and the Middle East to oversee the emergency response to the natural disaster.

“The rescue teams are doing their utmost,” he said.

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