PRIME Minister Shinzo Abe has visited a city hit by heavy rains as the government said 176 people have been confirmed dead.

Abe visited an evacuation centre in Kurashiki, 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 dug through the debris, as the search for the dozens still missing entered its fifth day.

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

The government has mobilised 75,000 troops and emergency workers and nearly 80 helicopters for the search and rescue effort, Suga said.

Shipments of relief goods have been delayed by damaged roads and transportation systems.

“No water, food, nothing gets here,” Ichiro Tanabe, who lives in the port city of Kure, told the Mainichi newspaper.

Thousands of homes are still without clean water and electricity. Residents lined up for water under a scorching sun as temperatures rose to 35C (95F), raising the risk of heat stroke.

Suga said earlier the government was spending two billion yen (£13 million) to hasten deliveries of supplies and other support for evacuation centres and residents.