Rest of Asia

Video: 20 missing as torrential rains unleash landslides in Japan

Filed on July 3, 2021

Social media videos show mud obliterating some buildings while burying others.

A huge landslide swept away homes and left at least 20 people missing at a popular resort town in central Japan on Saturday after days of heavy rain, local officials said.

Television footage showed a torrent of mud obliterating some buildings and burying others in Atami, southwest of Tokyo, with people running away as it crashed over a hillside road.

"I heard a horrible sound and saw a mudslide flowing downwards as rescue workers were urging people to evacuate. So I ran to higher ground," a leader of a temple near the disaster told public broadcaster NHK.

"When I returned, houses and cars that were in front of the temple were gone."

A Shizuoka prefecture disaster management official told AFP that "the safety of 19 people is unknown" after the landslide.

The local government has requested military assistance for a rescue mission, he added.

The landslide occurred at around 10:30 am and "several houses were swept away", an Atami city official said.

More than 2,800 homes in the region were without power, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

A video posted on TikTok from the scene showed a huge slurry of mud and debris sliding slowly down a steep road and nearly engulfing a white car, which drove away before a faster and more devastating torrent arrived.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will meet ministers this afternoon to discuss the disaster and other rain-related damage, Japanese media reported.

Atami saw rainfall of 313 millimetres in just 48 hours to Saturday -- higher than the usual monthly average of 242.5 millimetres in July, according to NHK.

The city is around 90 kilometres (55 miles) from Tokyo and is famous as a hot spring resort.

Shinkansen bullet trains between Tokyo and Osaka were temporarily stopped due to the heavy rain, while other local trains in rain-affected areas were also halted, rail company websites said.

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