“This is hell”: 1,500 rescuers search in the missing mud in Japan | Japan News

After heavy rains on the weekend brought mud and rocks to the streets of Atami, about 80 people remained unaccounted for.

On Monday, about 1,500 rescuers rummaged through collapsed houses and buried roads in Japan, trying to find about 80 people. It is believed that they were still missing two days after a series of landslides in Atami, a coastal city not far from Tokyo.

Heavy rains over the weekend — more than the usual rainfall in July in 24 hours in some areas — triggered a series of landslides and massive mudslides through the city streets 90 kilometers (60 miles) southwest of Tokyo. Three people have been confirmed dead.

“My mother is still missing,” a man told NHK public television. “I never thought that something like this would happen here.”

A 75-year-old evacuee said that the house opposite him was washed away and the whereabouts of the couple who lived there is unknown.

“This is hell,” he said.

Officials said that by Monday, the number of rescuers at the scene had increased to 1,500, and it may increase.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters: “We hope to rescue as many victims as possible… buried in the rubble as soon as possible.” He added that the police, firefighters and soldiers are doing their best to assist in the search and rescue.

The Kyodo News Agency of Japan stated that as of noon, the number of missing persons had reached 80. Earlier, spokesman Hiroki Onuma told Reuters that 113 people are believed to be missing.

“We keep in touch with various groups and advance searches,” Onuma said.

The bird’s eye view shows the location of the landslide believed to have occurred in Atami [Kyodo via Reuters]

He said that the number of people whose whereabouts rose sharply on Monday because officials began to work on the resident register instead of calling people who could not reach family and friends.

On Saturday morning, about 130 buildings were affected by landslides. Atami is a hot spring resort on a steep slope leading to the bay.

According to local media, water, mud and debris are thought to flow along a river to the sea for about two kilometers (1.2 miles).

Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu called on residents to be vigilant and pointed out that the saturated soil has weakened and even light rain may be dangerous.

Although Onuma said that rainfall in Atami has stopped, more rainfall is expected, which increases the possibility of further landslides.

“The situation is unpredictable,” he said.

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