Japan mudslide: Rescuers in Atami slog through mud; 20 missing
Rescue workers slogged through mud and debris Monday looking for at least 20 people missing since a giant landslide ripped through a Japanese seaside resort town and killed at least three people. Mud crashed into rows of houses on a mountainside in Atami early Saturday following several days of heavy rains. Witnesses heard a giant roar and saw the homes swallowed by muddy waves.
Hundreds of troops, firefighters toiled in thick mud
Bystanders were heard gasping in horror on cell phone videos taken as the devastating mudslide swept through Atami on Saturday. Hundreds of troops, firefighters, and other rescue workers toiled in thick mud on the city streets even as the continuing rains and fog obscured the scene. Their work was backed by three coast guard ships, and six military drones were also being deployed.
Mudslide struck Izusan neighborhood, a shrine, Atami's shopping streets
Mariko Hattori—an interpreter who lives near the area where the mudslide hit—at first didn't know what happened. "The first things I noticed were lots of emergency vehicles. Then I was frightened when I saw the footage," she said. The mudslide struck the Izusan neighborhood, known for hot springs, a shrine, and shopping streets in Atami, which is about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo.
A woman narrowly escaped after seeing nearby apartment being hit
At an evacuation center, Yuka Komatsu, 47, told the Asahi newspaper she narrowly escaped the mudslide after seeing a nearby apartment building being hit. Frightened, she grabbed her mother and jumped into her car. In the rearview mirror, she saw muddy water swelling and coming from behind as it washed down broken trees and rocks. "I wonder what happened to our house," she said.
Three people found dead, 23 rescued, three injured
Three people have been found dead as of early Monday, Fire and Disaster Management Agency and local officials said. Twenty-three people stranded by the slide have been rescued, including three who were injured. Atami officials said 215 people were registered as living in the 130 homes and other buildings damaged by the slide.
20 believed to be buried underneath the mudslide: Disaster agency
Initially, 147 of those 215 registered people were unreachable, but the number has been lowered to 113 as city officials confirmed some had safely evacuated. They are hoping to be able to get in touch with more of them Monday. As per the disaster agency, separately, about 20 people were believed to be buried underneath the mudslide.
Land development upstream may have been a factor: Governor Kawakatsu
Meanwhile, Shizuoka Governor Heita Kawakatsu told reporters that land development upstream may have been a factor in the mudslide. Citing a preliminary examination by drone, Kawakatsu said massive amounts of soil that had been heaped up at the area under development were all washed down. It wasn't known if land development upstream was the direct cause, but Kawakatsu said he will investigate it further.