TOKYO – Two people are feared dead and about 20 others remain missing Saturday after torrential rain triggered a large mudslide southwest of Tokyo, destroying more than 10 houses, local authorities said.
A video posted on Twitter showed black water mixed with soil and sand flowing rapidly from the top of a mountain at about 10:30 a.m. in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, and making a rumbling sound. The mudslide has reached the nearby coast, according to police.
Around 21,000 households in Atami, home to hot spa resorts, were ordered to ensure their safety immediately as the city government issued the highest level of evacuation alert.
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Rescue workers are searching for those missing. They also received about 10 calls from people who are trapped in their houses due to the mudslide.
The Ground Self-Defense Force dispatched around 30 personnel to the area in response to a request from the prefectural government.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga held talks with disaster minister Yasufumi Tanahashi over the mudslide.
The government has set up a task force at the prime minister’s office to collect information as heavy rainfall swept areas along the Pacific coast in central and eastern Japan.
Torrential rain disrupted the public transport system. Shinkansen bullet train runs were briefly suspended in sections between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, according to operator Central Japan Railway Co.
The Japan Meteorological Agency urged maximum caution and called on the public to be vigilant over mudslides, flooding, and swollen rivers.
In the 72-hour period through 11 a.m. Saturday, 790 millimeters of rainfall were recorded in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, and over 550 mm were logged in Gotemba, Shizuoka Prefecture, the agency said.
Prefectural governments from Ibaraki in the east to Kyoto in the west have issued warnings to their residents about sediment-related disasters.
The seasonal rain front is forecast to move toward the Sea of Japan coast over the weekend, with wide areas along the coast expected to suffer torrential rain through Monday.