Disasters & Accidents

Search continues for 20 missing in mudslide southwest of Tokyo

Tokyo, Jul 4 (EFE).- Search and rescue efforts continued Sunday to find 20 people missing after a huge mudslide in Atami, southwest of Tokyo, triggered by torrential rains, which have so far left two dead.

Some 1,000 police officers and members of the Self-Defense Forces (army) as well as firefighters participated in the rescue efforts in the popular hot-spring tourist resort area in Shizuoka prefecture, while the mud and debris removal work began early in the day in the rain.

Ten people who had been trapped in their homes were rescued, including three with minor injuries, according to public broadcaster NHK.

The Coast Guard also continued to search for missing persons in a nearby port, where the two female confirmed fatalities were found.

The avalanche, which took place on Saturday, has affected some 130 homes, some of which have been completely destroyed.

Local authorities issued evacuation orders for about 390 people earlier Sunday and declared the highest alert for the risk of sediment-related disasters, according to the local Kyodo news agency.

High-speed trains between Tokyo and Osaka, which were suspended on Saturday, resumed service Sunday.

The Japan Meteorological Agency predicts that the torrential rains affecting much of the country will continue in the coming hours and warned of the risk of landslides, avalanches, floods and overflowing rivers.

The storm lashing the Japanese archipelago has affected mainly the prefectures of Kanagawa and Shizuoka. In Atami in particular, the average rainfall for the entire month of July was recorded in two days.

Torrential rains have caused floods, landslides and rivers to overflow in the worst-hit areas, disasters that experts say are increasingly common in the country during its summer rainy season due to the effects of climate change. EFE


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