Japanese leader pushes relief after deadly mudslide in town

TOKYO (AP) – More than 1,000 soldiers, firefighters and police waded through a giant mudslide that ravaged a resort town southwest of Tokyo on Sunday, killing at least two people and leaving around 20 missing as she swept houses and cars.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters that 19 people were rescued and 130 houses damaged in Atami.

Two people died, two were injured, but more are missing, he said after an emergency cabinet meeting. Earlier, those responsible for the disaster said 20 people were missing, but warned their numbers could rise.

“The region still experiences heavy rainfall, but arduous rescue efforts will continue,” Suga said, warning residents to be careful of more landslides. “Please act as quickly as possible to stay safe. “

Troops, firefighters and other rescuers, supported by three coastguard ships, scrambled to clear the mud from the streets of Atami and reach those believed to be trapped or carried away. Drones were also helping with the research, Suga said.

The mudslide early Saturday crashed into the mountainside in rows of houses following heavy rains that started several days ago. Passers-by, their gasps of horror audible, filmed the scene on a cell phone.

Witnesses said they heard a giant roar, then watched helplessly as the houses were swallowed up by muddy waves that some said resembled a tsunami.

The two people confirmed dead, the two women, had been taken into the sea and found by the coast guard, said Tatsushi Ueda, an official in Shizuoka prefecture in charge of disaster prevention. He said 121 people were evacuated to Atami, a resort town about 100 kilometers (60 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

The area affected by the mudslide, Izusan, includes hot springs, residential areas, shopping streets and a famous shrine.


Associated Press videographer Haruka Nuga contributed to this report.


Kantaro Komiya is on Twitter

Haruka Nuga is on Twitter


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