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September 21, 2021
Emergency International World

Japanese Resort Town Searching for 80 People After Mudslide

TOKYO — Officials in the Japanese resort town of Atami said Monday that they were still trying to locate more than 80 people after record-setting rains had brought a mudslide crashing through a residential area over the weekend.

Four people have been declared dead, and authorities said they were considering releasing the names of the dozens who remained missing in an effort to determine whether they had been caught up in the mudslide.

Police, fire, and military personnel continued a search-and-rescue operation that had begun Saturday after more than a foot and a half of rain poured down on Atami, triggering the landslide, which destroyed more than 100 homes.

Rescuers were attempting to help three people Monday, including a couple who had requested assistance after being unable to leave their home, officials said.

Authorities in the hot spring resort town, which is near Mount Fuji about two hours southwest of Tokyo, had warned residents to protect themselves against the deluge, although they had not ordered a broad evacuation. Officials have continued to keep the area on high alert, as more heavy rain is forecast this week.

Startling footage of the destruction showed a torrent of liquid earth pouring through the town’s streets and knocking cars away like toys as terrified people scrambled for safety. Whole sections of broken buildings floated on the fast-moving wave.

Japan, which is in the middle of its rainy season, has experienced an uptick in devastating floods in recent years as global warming has led to increased rainfall across much of the country.

Over a 72-hour period, Atami, a town of nearly 36,000 people, was hit with 170% of the area’s average rainfall for July. Dozens of cities and towns around Tokyo have also hit new rainfall records in recent days, and alerts have been issued for other parts of the country as the heavy rains continue.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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