Japan landslide survivors window closed, 24 missing
More than 1,000 soldiers and rescuers joined an increasingly desperate search for survivors on Tuesday at a Japanese resort devastated by a landslide three days ago.
Four people have been confirmed dead after the Atami disaster in central Japan and officials said they were still unable to clarify the fate or fate of 24 other residents.
Helicopter footage showed a dark line of mud and rubble winding through a hillside area of Atami, a popular spa destination.
Rescuers walked through destroyed homes and waded through vast piles of mud at the very end of the 72 hours that experts say are crucial in the race to save lives.
“We have only a short time left … We will give all we have left and pray that we can find as many people as possible,” Atami mayor Sakae Saito said at a meeting. local officials on Tuesday morning.
At one point, the number of residents missing rose to more than 100, but officials said they managed to locate most of them and confirm they were safe.
“Those who remain missing represent 24 people,” Saito told the televised meeting.
Confirming the number of people missing after the disaster was complicated – many families have summer homes in Atami but actually live elsewhere, while elderly residents may have moved to care homes, local media said. .
The landslide descended in several violent waves on Saturday morning during the annual rainy season in Japan.
It followed days of intense downpours in and around Atami, which is about 90 kilometers (55 miles) southwest of Tokyo.
Pylons were knocked down, vehicles buried and buildings knocked down from their foundations in the disaster, which destroyed 130 homes and other buildings.
City officials said Monday they identified one of the dead as 82-year-old Chiyose Suzuki.
His eldest son Hitoshi, 56, told Kyodo he regretted not bringing his mother – who couldn’t walk well – with him when police told them to evacuate.
“I should have gone back and got her out of there myself” instead of leaving her behind, he reportedly said.
Suzuki was taken to hospital by rescuers but died there.
Atami reportedly recorded more rainfall in 48 hours than usual for the entire month of July, and survivors told local media they had never experienced such heavy rain in their lives.
Scientists say climate change is intensifying the rainy season in Japan because a warmer atmosphere holds more water.
In 2018, more than 200 people died when devastating flooding flooded western Japan, and last year dozens were killed as the coronavirus pandemic complicated relief efforts.
© 2021 AFP