NEW: 38 people are missing, news agency reports
Authorities fear the number could be much higher
Heavy rains have pounded the area, bringing landslides
The death toll from landslides in Hiroshima, Japan, rose to 50 on Sunday, and 38 more people were reported missing, according to Kyodo news agency.
Rains triggered massive slides Wednesday that swallowed up dozens of homes and sent residents digging in the heavy debris looking for loved ones – some with their bare hands.
A resident of the Asakita Ward, one of the hardest-hit areas, described roads as resembling rivers.
A record 9.5 inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period earlier in the week, the Kyodo news agency said. More rain came on Sunday, causing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to call off a planned visit.
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui acknowledged evacuation advisories came late, Kyodo reported. Matsui said city officials will investigate how they can improve.
According to Hiroshima’s disaster control center, as of Thursday morning 1,018 people had been evacuated from destroyed houses and moved to public facilities.
About 600 emergency personnel were deployed to the area.
CNN’s Tina Burnside contributed to this report