After heavy rain, mudslides hit houses west of Tokyo, at least 19 people are missing
Officials said that after the heavy rain on Saturday, a powerful mudslide carrying large amounts of black water and debris rushed into rows of houses in western Tokyo, killing at least 19 people.
According to an official from the Fire and Disaster Management Bureau, as many as 80 houses in Atami were completely buried.
The official said that there may still be 100 people missing under the mudslide, but warned that the details are still unclear. The official, who asked not to be named, is often mentioned in the policies of the Japanese bureaucracy. He emphasized that active rescue operations are underway to find survivors.
The public broadcaster NHK provided 20 missing people, but Shizuoka Prefecture spokesperson Takamichi Sugiyama said that local officials confirmed at least 19 people, although he said the number may increase.
Starting earlier this week, heavy rain has hit parts of Japan. Experts say that the soil has loosened, increasing the risk of landslides in a country full of valleys and mountains.
Heita Kawakatsu, Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture, told reporters that the Coast Guard found two people who were washed into the sea by the mudslide. He said their hearts have stopped beating, but their deaths have not been officially announced. Other details of their identities have not been released.
“I express my deepest condolences to all those who have suffered,” he said, adding that I will do my best to save lives.
Both Kawakatsu and Sugiyama said that the area had been raining heavily throughout the morning. They said that the Self-Defense Forces will join the rescue operations of firefighters and police, and a minister of the national government has also arrived.
Japanese media reported that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga convened an emergency cabinet meeting.
Evacuation warnings are issued for a wide range of areas, including the so-called “level 5”, which is the highest possible warning.
The landslide seems to have happened many times, as fast as a car. The video showed a powerful black mudslide sliding down the mountain, knocking down and destroying houses and washing away cars on the road. The helpless neighbors watched in horror. Some people recorded on their phones.
NHK TV screens show that part of a bridge has collapsed.
Atami is a quaint seaside resort in Shizuoka Prefecture, located about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. The area of ??Mount Izu hit by mudslides includes hot springs, residential areas, shopping streets, and famous shrines.