Japan rescue work continues after deadly landslides

AFP

Rain hampered Japanese rescuers seeking 20 missing people on Sunday after landslides triggered by torrential rains hit the central city of Atami, killing at least two, Kyodo news agency said.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said about 19 people were rescued and about 130 buildings were affected after floods, landslides and cascading mud collapsed and half-submerged houses on Saturday in the seaside city 90 km (60 miles) southwest of Tokyo, according to Kyodo.

Suga asked people in the affected areas to remain on alert and take precautions after he and cabinet ministers met on Sunday to discuss the disaster and heavy rain in the central and eastern Japan, Kyodo said.

The floods are a reminder of the natural disasters - including earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunami - that plague Japan, where the capital Tokyo is to host the summer Olympics starting this month.

Some 700 people from the Shizuoka prefectural police, firefighters and Japan's military resumed their search and rescue efforts after dawn, but their operations have been interrupted repeatedly due to a risk of ground loosening and warnings of secondary damage from rain, Kyodo said.

In the affected area where intermittent rain continued, about 387 people have been evacuated as of Sunday morning, the news agency said.

The landslides occurred in Atami, home to hot spring resorts on a steep slope into a bay, around 10:30 a.m. (0130 GMT) on Saturday. The water, mud and debris and is believed to have flowed along a river for about 2 km (1.2 miles) to the sea, local media said.

Local TV aired footage of collapsed and half-submerged houses. Social media images showed partially submerged cars and rescue workers wading through waist-high water with a small life raft.

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