OSAKA, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- A total of 36 people were confirmed dead and seven others unaccounted on Wednesday after downpours triggered landslides and flooding in Hiroshima prefecture in western Japan, local press reported.
Hiroshima was hit by torrential rain in the early hours of Wednesday with more than 100 millimeters of rain per hour recorded, causing at least 20 reports of people buried alive or washed away, media reports said.
Asakita Ward of Hiroshima was one of the hardest hit areas with a record 217.5 millimeters of rain falling in the three hours from 1:30 a.m. local time Wednesday.
The city of Hiroshima, which started issuing evacuation advisories at 4:20 a.m.local time, was blamed for being slow to react to the disaster.
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui reportedly voiced regret over the late issuance of evacuation advisories, saying the city will study what should be improved.
According to media reports, a 2-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy were both buried in a mudslide, so was a rescue worker among other victims of the disaster.
Under the request of the Hiroshima prefectural government, the Japanese government decided to increase the number of Self-Defense Forces for rescue operations to 500 from the initially dispatched 30.
Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was taking his summer vacation, returned to his office in Tokyo to cope with the disaster.