4 dead, search continues for dozens missing in landslide in Japan's Atami

4 dead, search continues for dozens missing in landslide in Japan's Atami

Rescue workers dug through sludge and debris Monday trying to find dozens of individuals who could also be trapped after a a torrent of mud, trees and rocks ripped with a roar through a Japanese seaside resort town, killing a minimum of four people.

Eighty people were still unaccounted for 2 days after the landslide, consistent with Shizuoka prefectural disaster management official Takamichi Sugiyama. Officials planned to release their names, hoping that perhaps some were away when the disaster struck, since many of the apartments and houses in Atami are second homes or vacation rentals.

Initially, 147 people were unreachable, but that number was revised downward after officials confirmed some had safely evacuated or were simply not reception . additionally to the four people found dead, officials said 25 people are rescued, including three who were injured.

The disaster is another trial as authorities steel oneself against the Tokyo Olympics, because of start in but three weeks, while Japan remains within the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, with cases steadily climbing within the capital and experts suggesting a requirement for an additional state of emergency.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters that rescue workers do their utmost “to rescue those that could also be buried under the mud and expecting help as soon as possible". Three coast guard ships, and 6 military drones were backing up many troops, firefighters et al. toiling within the rain and fog.

The landslide occurred Saturday mid-morning after days of heavy rain in Atami, which like many seaside Japanese towns is made into a steep hillside. It tore through the Izusan neighborhood, known for its hot springs, a shrine and shopping streets. The town features a registered population of 36,800 and is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu, who inspected the world Monday where the mudslide was believed to possess started, said rain soaked into the mountainside apparently weakening the bottom under a huge pile of soil at a construction site that then slid down the slope.

The prefecture is investigating. Media reports said a planned development within the area was abandoned after its operator saw financial problems.

Witnesses described an enormous roar as alittle stream became a torrent, and bystanders were heard gasping in horror on cellphone videos taken because it happened.

Naoto Date, an actor who was visiting Izusan, was awakened by sirens. His neighborhood is now awash in muddy water with rescuers wading through knee-deep sludge. Just blocks from his home, some houses are completely washed away, with only their foundations still visible. Mangled traffic signs stick out from the mud. At the seafront, he saw cars floating along side debris from destroyed homes.

“I grew over here , and my classmates and friends live here. I’m so sad to ascertain my neighborhood where I wont to play with my friends is now destroyed”, Date told The Associated Press by videocall from his range in Atami.

While Date's mother, who was staying nearby , has moved to a hotel along side other evacuees, the actor said he was staying faraway from evacuation centers because he's concerned about the coronavirus.

The Izusan area is one among 660,000 locations in Japan identified as susceptible to mudslides by the govt , but those designations aren't widely publicized and public awareness is low. Early July, near the top of Japan's season , is usually a time of deadly flooding and mudslides, and lots of experts say the rains are worsening because of global climate change .

With other parts of the country expecting heavy downpours, authorities were urging people near hillsides in areas in danger to use caution. Public broadcaster NHK carried a program Monday about risk factors and warning signs which may precede a landslide.

A year ago, flooding and mudslides triggered by heavy rain in Kumamoto and 4 other prefectures within the Kyushu region in southern Japan left nearly 80 people dead. In July 2018, hillsides in crowded residential areas in Hiroshima collapsed, leaving 20 dead. In 2017, mudslides and flooding within the Kyushu region killed 40.

Miyoko Okamoto, an employee at a care home for the elderly, said the mudslide came on the brink of but narrowly missed her house. She and her son ran out of the house, while her husband, a community association leader, escorted neighbors to safer ground.

Okamoto said she hasn't been back home since fleeing because she helps residents at the care home. “We were lucky to possess survived, and that is most important", she said.

But her neighbor remains trying to find his wife. “They are good friends of ours", she said, "and that pains my heart”.

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