Major landslide in Central Japan – 2 dead, 20 missing so far

Major landslide in Central Japan – 2 dead, 20 missing so far

A huge rescue operation is under way in central Japan after a landslide hit the popular resort of Atami, killing two people and leaving 20 others missing.

Hundreds of rescuers began sweeping the hillside for survivors early on Sunday after a torrent of black mud crashed through the city a day earlier.

Several houses were swept away by the mudslide, which followed heavy rain.

Atami has had more rainfall in the first three days of July than it usually sees in the whole month.

Video posted on social media on Saturday showed mud plummeting down a mountain in the prefecture of Shizuoka, weaving through the city of Atami towards the sea.

A resident said he heard a “horrible sound” and fled as the landslide engulfed everything in its path.

“We are trying our best to search for survivors as quickly as possible while carrying out the operation very carefully as it is still raining,” a local official told AFP news agency.

The weather has been similar in neighbouring Kanagawa prefecture.

Japan is a very mountainous and densely populated country and landslides are not unusual, says the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo.

But there is growing evidence that climate change is making these sorts of extreme weather events more frequent and more destructive, our correspondent adds.

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