More than 1,000 soldiers, firefighters, and police on Sunday waded through an enormous mudslide that ripped through a Japanese resort town southwest of Tokyo each day earlier, killing a minimum of two people and leaving about 20 missing because it caught in frenzy houses and cars.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters 19 people had been rescued, and 130 homes and other buildings were damaged in Atami.
Two people were dead but more were feared missing, he said, speaking after an emergency Cabinet meeting. Earlier, disaster officials said about 20 were unaccounted for, but warned the amount may rise. Shizuoka prefecture officials said three people had been injured.
“The area remains to have heavy rainfall, but arduous rescue efforts will continue,” Suga said, warning residents to observe out for more landslides. “Please act as quickly as you’ll to remain safe.”
AT LEAST 19 MISSING AS MUDSLIDE WEST OF TOKYO HITS HOUSES
Troops, firefighters, and other rescue workers, backed by three coast guard ships, were working to clear the mud from the streets of Atami and reach those believed to be trapped or over-excited. The rescue workers were barely visible within the rainfall and thick fog apart from their hard hats. Six military drones were being flown to assist in the search.
Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu told a press conference Sunday that exploitation upstream from the affected area may have played a task within the disaster. Citing preliminary drone examination, Kawakatsu said massive amounts of soil heaped up within the area were all washed down, although it had been not immediately known whether the event was the direct cause.
Kawakatsu said he will investigate the exploitation. Media reports said a planned development had been abandoned after its operator had a financial problem.
The mudslide early Saturday crashed down a mountainside into rows of homes following heavy rains that began several days ago. Bystanders, their gasps of horror audible, caught the scene on telephone video.
Witnesses said they heard an enormous roar then watched helplessly as homes were swallowed up by the muddy waves.
Like many others, Mariko Hattori, an interpreter who lives a brief walk off from where the tsunami-like torrent of mud struck, initially didn’t know what happened.
“The first things I noticed were many emergency vehicles. I didn’t know what happened initially,” she said. “Then I used to be frightened once I saw the footage.”
The area of Atami where the mudslide struck, Susan, maybe a seaside resort about 100 kilometers (60 miles) southwest of Tokyo. It’s known for decent springs, a shrine, and shopping streets.
At an evacuation center, Yuka Komatsu, 47, told the Asahi newspaper she narrowly escaped the mudslide after seeing a close-by apartment house being hit. Frightened, she gabbed her mother and jumped into her car. within the car mirror, she saw muddy water swelling and coming from behind because it washed down broken trees and rocks.
“I wonder what happened to our house,” she said.