Japan: Over 100 still missing after heavy rains trigger landslides

Japanese rescuers combed through crumbled houses and buried roads on Monday, two days after landslides tore through a resort town, fighting time and poor weather to search for more than 100 people believed missing.


At least three people have been killed in the seaside town of Atami after torrential rains at the weekend triggered a succession of landslides to send torrents of mud and rock ripping through streets in one part of the city. In some places, more than a usual July’s worth of rain fell in just 24 hours.


The torrential rain and landslides are a reminder of the natural disasters, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis that rocked Japan, whose capital, Tokyo, is to host the summer Olympics beginning this month.


“We want to rescue as many victims … buried in the rubble as soon as possible,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters. He added that police, firefighters, and military members were putting in all their efforts to do so.


A third person was confirmed dead in the seaside city of Atami, 90km southwest of Tokyo, where 113 are believed missing, spokesperson Hiroki Onuma told Reuters.


Over the weekend, some 20 people were said to be unaccounted for. Still, the number rose sharply on Monday as officials began working from residential registers rather than phone calls from people unable to reach family members, he said.


Around 130 buildings were affected on Saturday morning when the landslides ripped through Atami, a hot springs resort town set on a steep slope that leads down to a bay.


The water, mud, and debris are thought to have flowed along a river for about 2 km to the sea, local media reported.

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