At least 28 people died and 50 were missing as torrential rain triggered mudslides and flooding smashed homes and swept away cars in western Japan on Saturday. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said around 48,000 police, firefighters and members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces were taking part in rescue operations, Reuters reported.

Over 90 mm of rain per hour was recorded in the city of Susaki in Kōchi Prefecture, and more than 70 mm in the same period in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture on Saturday. The downpour, which began Thursday, is likely to last till Sunday.

Heavy rainfall had damaged at least 500 houses and injured 40 people by 7 am local time (3.30 am Indian Standard Time) on Saturday, The Japan Times reported. Of those dead by the afternoon, 14 were killed in Hiroshima prefecture, and the rest in Osaka, Shiga, Hyogo, Okayama and Ehime prefectures.

As many as 16 lakh people have been evacuated from their homes, Reuters reported. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency has asked another 31 lakh to leave.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued special weather warnings, advising vigilance against landslides, rising rivers and strong winds, and called the heavy rain “historic”.