Huge landslide hits Japan: At least 20 people missing as deluge of debris and mud sweeps away houses and roads in town west of Tokyo following heavy rain

  • At least 20 people are missing and two bodies have been found after a huge landslide in a Tokyo resort town
  • A torrent of mud and water crashed down a hillside in Atami, southwest of Tokyo, at around 10am on Saturday
  • Shocking video footage showed the mudslide collapsing down the hill and obliterating buildings in its path

At least twenty people are missing and two bodies are believed to have been found after a huge landslide at a resort town in Japan swept away homes this morning following days of heavy rain, officials have confirmed.

Dozens of homes may have been buried after a torrent of mud crashed down a hillside in the Izusan district of Atami, southwest of Tokyo, at around 10am on Saturday following days of torrential rain.

Shocking video footage showed the mudslide collapsing down the hillside and obliterating buildings in its path, sending people fleeing for their lives as the dislodged hillside buried part of a road.

Two people were ‘found in a state of cardio and respiratory arrest’, the regional governor said, an expression often used in Japan before confirming death.

Shizuoka’s governor said ‘around 20’ people were still missing after being swept away by the landslide, while soldiers will join firefighters and police in a rescue operation to desperately find people who may be trapped beneath the mud. 

At least twenty people are missing and two bodies were found after a huge landslide at a resort town in Japan swept away homes this morning following days of heavy rain, officials have confirmed

Shocking video footage showed the mudslide collapsing down the hillside and obliterating buildings in its path, sending people fleeing for their lives as the dislodged hillside buried part of a road

Dozens of homes may have been buried after a torrent of mud crashed down a hillside in Atami, southwest of Tokyo, at around 10am on Saturday following days of heavy rain Pictured: A man looks out at the shocking damage following the mudslide

A witness told public broadcaster NHK: ‘I heard a horrible sound and saw a mudslide flowing downwards as rescue workers were urging people to evacuate. So I ran to higher ground.

‘When I returned, houses and cars that were in front of the temple were gone.’

Pictures showed the horrifying aftermath of the landslide as buildings were left completely destroyed and roads remained completely buried in heavy mud, while there are fears of increasing fatalities. 

Torrential downpours have been sweeping Japan during its annual rainy season, which last several weeks and often triggers warnings of floods and landslides as ground can become dislodged.  

The highest evacuation alert, which urges people ‘to secure safety urgently’, has been issued to Atami, which has more than 20,000 households, while residents in nearby cities in Shizuoka have been ordered to evacuate. 

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has put together an emergency task force to respond to the disaster, said it had been raining heavily all morning in Atami and warned that more downpours were forecast. 

Two people were ‘found in a state of cardio and respiratory arrest’, the regional governor said, an expression often used in Japan before confirming death

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said emergency services and the military had launched rescue and evacuation missions, warning that more downpours were forecast. Pictured: Houses damaged following the mudslide in Atami

Shizuoka’s governor said ‘around 20’ people were still missing after being swept away by the landslide, while soldiers will join firefighters and police in a rescue operation to desperately find people who may be trapped beneath the mud

‘There is a possibility of heavy rain due to the rain front, so we still need to be alert at the maximum level,’ he said at an emergency disaster meeting.

Atami saw rainfall of 313 millimetres in just 48 hours to Saturday, which is higher than the average monthly total for July of 242.5 millimetres, according to NHK.

‘Because of the heavy rain, the ground loosened and the mudslide occurred… it picked up speed and swept away houses together with people,’ Shizuoka Governor Heita Kawakatsu told reporters.

The disaster began at around 10.30am at a river near the city, which is around 55 miles from Tokyo and is famous as a hot spring resort.

Video footage showed the moment the huge slurry of mud and debris slide slowly down a steep road and nearly engulfed a white car, while it also toppled electricity poles, with large areas left inundated by waves of earth.

Around 2,800 homes in Atami have been left without power following the disaster, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Company. 

Downpours have been sweeping Japan during its annual rainy season, which last several weeks and often triggers warnings of floods and landslides. Pictured: Debris covers a road near Highway 135, after heavy rainfall in Izusan, Shizuoka prefecture

First responders observe a landslide caused by heavy rains in Zushi, Kanagawa prefecture, west of Tokyo on Saturday, which has seen at least twenty people missing 


Videos and pictures from the scene showed a huge slurry of mud and debris sliding slowly down a steep road (right) leaving dozens of homes and roads (left) completely buried 

At least twenty people are missing and houses have been damaged by mudslide following heavy rain at Izusan district in Atami, west of Tokyo, on Saturday

Atami saw rainfall of 313 millimetres in just 48 hours to Saturday — higher than the average monthly total for July of 242.5 millimetres. Pictured: Houses are damaged following the landslide in Atami on Saturday morning

Video footage showed the moment the huge slurry of mud and debris slide slowly down a steep road and nearly engulfed a white car, while it also toppled electricity poles, with large areas left inundated by waves of earth (pictured)

Shinkansen bullet trains between Tokyo and Osaka were temporarily stopped due to the heavy rain, while other local trains in rain-affected areas were also halted, rail company websites said.

Japan is prone to floods and landslides in its annual rainy season, which lasts several weeks, and can prompt local authorities to issue evacuation orders.

Scientists say climate change is intensifying the phenomenon because a warmer atmosphere holds more water, resulting in more intense rainfall.

Last July, massive floods and landslides were triggered after record heavy rain in western Japan, which saw authorities issue evacuation orders for more than 76,000 residents.

And in 2018, more than 200 people died after devastating floods inundated western Japan, which left residents stranded on their rooftops after rivers burst their banks and swamped whole communities. 

In Kumano, downpours had loosened earth on the surrounding hillsides, and sent multiple waves of mud crashing down onto the homes below.

Following the 2018 disaster, experts slammed Japan’s warning system as problematic, saying the decision to issue evacuation orders often left to local officials who may have no disaster management experience.

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