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Huge search for survivors after mudslide engulfs town in Japan

Written by on 04/07/2021

More than 1,000 soldiers, police and firefighters are searching for survivors after a huge mudslide hit a Japanese town.

At least two people were killed and about 20 are still missing in Atami, a seaside town 60 miles southwest of Tokyo known for its hot springs.

The mudslide struck on Saturday after heavy rain, with more than 100 homes and buildings swept away or damaged.

Police officers conduct search and rescue operation around a destroyed car at a mudslide site caused by heavy rain at Izusan district in Atami
Image: Police officers search a wrecked car for survivors in Atami
Teams have been using poles to probe beneath the mud
Image: Teams have been using poles to probe beneath the mud

Pictures show rescuers looking inside damaged cars caked in dirt, and using poles to probe for people who may be trapped under the mud.

A man with a young child was seen being helped to safety from one building and dogs are also helping the search.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, speaking after an emergency cabinet meeting on Sunday, said 19 people had been rescued, while officials have warned the number of people missing could rise.

Residents are rescued by firefighters from mud-covered house in Atami. Pic: AP
Image: A man and a child are guided to safety. Pic: AP

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Car drives away before torrent of mud hits

With no let up in the weather, there are also fears more landslides may occur.

More on Japan

“The area is still having heavy rainfall, but arduous rescue efforts will continue,” the prime minister said. “Please act as quickly as you can to stay safe.”

Rescuers are trying to clear the mud from the town’s streets, with six military drones scouring the scene for survivors.

Television footage showed a wave of black mud slide down a mountainside, knocking down and crushing houses in its way as helpless neighbours watched in horror, some recording on their phones.

Footage from the Japanese broadcaster NHK shows part of a bridge had collapsed.

Heita Kawakatsu, governor of the Shizuoka region, said a nearby land development may have played a role in the mudslide and would be investigated.

 Sky News

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