A residential area is seen on July 9 in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, submerged following torrential rains that hit a wide area of western Japan.

A residential area is seen on July 9 in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, submerged following torrential rains that hit a wide area of western Japan.

record-breaking torrential rains continuing to spread in western Japan, more than 20,000 people remain stranded in Hiroshima, Ehime and Kochi prefectures on Wednesday, as local roads have been cut off or closed due to landslides, among other reasons. 

As of noon on Wednesday, 169 people had died in 12 prefectures and 79 people were missing in seven prefectures, according to information compiled by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Local governments are transporting food and water to isolated areas by helicopter and boat. However, completing restoration work and returning afflicted areas to normal is expected to take longer than initially thought.

According to data compiled by Hiroshima, Ehime and Kochi prefectures as of Tuesday afternoon, those stranded due to severed roads included about 20,000 people in about 10,400 households in Kure and Takehara, Hiroshima Prefecture; about 75 people in about 40 households in municipalities including Seiyo and Iyo in Ehime Prefecture; and about 230 people in about 150 households in municipalities including Aki and Otoyo in Kochi Prefecture. The Okayama prefectural government had not yet confirmed official figures.

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According to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, as of 5 a.m. Wednesday, due to landslides, road surface collapse and for other reasons, the roads mainly in the Chugoku and Shikoku regions that were closed to traffic included eight sections on eight expressways, including the Sanyo Expressway, 83 sections on 48 national highways, and 632 sections on prefectural and ordinance-designated city roads.

Meanwhile, the disaster response headquarters of the Okayama prefectural government said on Wednesday that 26 people were newly missing in the Mabicho area in Kurashiki, in which 48 people had died after many houses were flooded. Before then, only one person had been reported missing, according to the headquarters. As a result of information gathering by related organizations, including the city government, police and fire and disaster authorities, the figure has significantly increased.

According to data compiled by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency as of 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, at least 386 evacuation centers had opened and 8,049 people had been evacuated in 15 prefectures. The number has been going down as electricity and other infrastructure are restored.

On Wednesday, various parts of western Japan recorded 30 C or higher temperatures. As of noon on the day, the temperature in Ozu, Ehime Prefecture, was 34.2 C and in Hiroshima it was 31.8 C. It is important to take measures against heatstroke while search and rescue operations outside are being conducted and at evacuation centers.

Video showing the severe weather in Japan below Al Jazeera's Alexi O'Brien reports.

Kenneth from the Donegal Weather Channel