Mudslide in Japan: About 20 people missing and 2 dead in Atami town mudslide

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Images published on social media showed the mighty black mudslide that brought down a mountainside, engulfing homes and infrastructure under the horrified gaze of locals.

The giant mudslide in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, which occurred around 10:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, came after parts of the region were hit by torrential rains.

An official from the city of Atami confirmed to CNN that two women died in the landslide.

Police and firefighters have searched for the missing and so far 10 people have been rescued in Atami town. Operations halted overnight and resumed at 6 a.m. local time on Sunday, with the assistance of 700 people from the Japanese police, fire service and Self-Defense Force.

At 6.30 a.m., some 380 people were evacuated and 10 evacuation centers were opened in the city, the Atami city official said.

More than 80 homes were washed away in the mudslide, the Atami City Fire Management and Management Agency said. Sakae Saito, the mayor of Atami town, told reporters that up to 100 to 300 households have been affected.

About 2,830 homes in the city were without power, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Company. Power had largely been restored to Shizuoka by Sunday.

Yuji Shima, a resident of Atami, managed to evacuate with his wife and mother, but said he lost his home in the mudslide, which looked like “a tsunami”.

“The first thing that struck me was the rumbling of the ground. There was such a muddy, chemical smell in the air – of course so much was washed away. It all happened in a split second.” , did he declare. mentionned.

Shima said he has lived in the area for 50 years and although he has experienced typhoons and heavy rains, he said: “I have never experienced anything like this.”

“I made the safety of my family a priority. We just got here and didn’t take anything with us. We had a lot of people helping us so we had access to food and water. “, did he declare. “It’s a blessing that I survived.”

The government has set up a task force to respond to the disaster and collect information as heavy rainfall sweeps through areas along the Pacific coast in central and eastern Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga expressed his condolences victims of the landslide and stressed that rescuers were doing everything possible to save lives, rescue people and help with evacuations.

Heita Kawakatsu, governor of Shizuoka prefecture, expressed his “deepest sympathies” to those affected by the landslide and to “those who were forced to evacuate,” he said on Saturday in a statement. press conference.

Kawakatsu warned more rain is expected and said residents should watch out for more landslides. “There are a lot of places where the ground is loose, so evacuate the dangerous places, listen to the city and town news and make sure you and your family are safe,” he said. .

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry issued message of support for Japanese government on Twitter Saturday, saying the Taiwanese “were shocked and extremely saddened by the news footage that was being broadcast. If Japan needs it, we stand ready to help.”
At least 20 people are missing after the mudslide hit the coastal town.

So far, evacuation orders have been issued for people around Tokyo, as well as in Shizuoka and Aichi prefectures, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

Authorities have issued landslide warnings for parts of Shizuoka, Kanagawa, Chiba and Yamanashi prefectures, NHK reported.

The rain front is expected to move toward the Sea of ​​Japan coast over the weekend, with areas along the coast expected to see torrential rains on Monday and Tuesday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, which also warned against landslides and flooding in the lowlands. .

Japan is prone to landslides, averaging up to 1,500 landslides per year over the past decade, an increase of nearly 50% from the previous 10 years, according to a report by the Japanese government from 2020.
Houses are damaged by mudslides following heavy rains in Izusan district of Atami.
Flood-related disasters, such as landslides, are a traditional but serious risk for the country. Indeed, half of the Japanese population and 75% of the country’s assets are concentrated in areas prone to flooding, according to experts.

“Japan has a lot of risk factors leading to landslides. For example, it is prone to its mountainous terrain and a lot of places where the ground is made up of volcanic ash, which is not as strong.” said seismologist Robert Geller, a University of Tokyo professor, told CNN.

An increase in precipitation due to global warming increases the risk of devastating mudslides.

“Global warming is making everything worse and increasing the frequency of precipitation which can cause damaging landslides,” Geller added. “The rainy season is going to last another week or 10 days. Due to global warming, we are probably getting more precipitation now than usual.”

CNN’s Larry Register contributed to this report.



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