Japan: At least three dead and dozens feared missing after landslide in Atami

Rescuers are searching for dozens of people who are feared missing after a giant landslide ripped through a Japanese seaside resort.

At least three people were killed after the landslide destroyed more than 100 homes in Atami, a city situated 60 miles southwest of Japan’s capital Tokyo.

Initially, 147 people were unaccounted for but that number has been revised down to 80 after city officials confirmed some had safely evacuated or were away at the time.

Officials are preparing to release the names of those still missing in the hope of reaching some who might not have been caught in the landslide.

Atami, in the Shizuoka prefecture, is a popular holiday destination, with many apartments and homes unoccupied for long parts of the year, with their listed residents living in other places.

Three coastguard ships and six military drones were backing up the hundreds of troops, firefighters and other rescue workers searching through the mud and rain for possible survivors after the disaster struck on Saturday following several days of heavy rainfall.

Three people had been found dead as of early Monday and 23 others stranded were rescued, including three who were injured, fire and local officials said.

Actor Naoto Date, who lives in Tokyo, was visiting the town at the time and filmed scenes in the area with muddy water gushing down and rescuers wading through knee-deep mud.

He also went to the sea where toppled cars were floating with debris from destroyed homes.

He told the Associated Press: “Many people saw their homes and belongings and everything washed away. They won’t be able to return home, and it must require an unimaginable effort to recover.”

Shizuoka’s governor, Heita Kawakatsu, told a news conference on Sunday that land development upstream may have been a factor in the landslide.

Citing an examination by drone, Mr Kawakatsu said massive amounts of soil that had been heaped up in the construction area had all washed down.

The disaster comes as authorities prepare for the Tokyo Olympics, due to start in less than three weeks, as Japan continues its battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

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