2 million flee homes after record downpours strike Japan

Dozens of people are dead and more than 2 million have been forced to flee their homes after record rains hammered southwest Japan.

The downpours triggered floods and landslides, which have destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings.

Japan has never had to deal with a storm like it; it is the biggest downpour since records began. In the worst-affected areas, more than 25 centimetres of rain fell in just three hours.

A Japanese woman in her 80s said she'd never encountered a more frightening experience in her lifetime.

Rivers burst their banks, triggering large scale floods. Buildings were evacuated, including a hospital in the city of Kurashiki where 130 people including patients in their pajamas were taken out by boat and helicopter.

The official death toll stands at 85, with more than 50 people reported missing - but the total figure will be difficult to determine, as the affected area is so widespread.

Many people were killed by landslides which destroyed buildings and cut off communications.

More than 50,000 personnel have been mobilised for search and rescue efforts, and the danger isn't over with more heavy rain forecast in what officials fear could be the worst weather-related disaster in decades.