• Monday, December 22, 2014

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Landslides kill 27 in Japan

BBC Online
Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) soldiers and police officers carry a victim in a plastic bag at a site where a landslide swept through a residential area at Asaminami ward in Hiroshima, western Japan, August 20, 2014. Photo: Reuters
Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) soldiers and police officers carry a victim in a plastic bag at a site where a landslide swept through a residential area at Asaminami ward in Hiroshima, western Japan, August 20, 2014. Photo: Reuters

At least 27 people have been killed in landslides that struck Japan's Hiroshima prefecture, officials say.

The landslides happened in a residential area near a mountain in the Hiroshima city outskirts.

They were triggered after the equivalent of a month's rain fell in the 24 hours up to Wednesday morning, Japan's weather agency said.

Images from the scene showed houses buried in mud and rocks, as rescue teams worked their way towards homes.

"According to the National Police Agency, the death toll has risen to 27 and 10 others are still unaccounted for," a disaster management official told AFP news agency.

Another local government official said some people were washed away and it was "hard to know exactly how many are unaccounted for", AP reported.

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes says that several of those killed were children.

One of the youngest victims was a two-year-old boy, Kyodo news agency reported.

One survivor told AP: "I woke up in the middle of the night and the corridor to the living room of my house was already flooded."

"I heard the sound of water coming in, and then the water from the river rushed into my house, so I just took the car and rushed out."

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he had asked local officials to "raise the number of [military] personnel to several hundred in order to strengthen rescue operations".

More rain could trigger further landslides, weather officials have warned.

At least two reports in Japan said a 53-year old rescue worker died during the operation when the hillside collapsed again, though it is not clear if he was included in the overall death toll.

Much of central and southern Japan is mountainous, with many homes nestled into steep slopes.

Last year, a typhoon triggered landslides on Izu Oshima island, south of Tokyo, that left 35 people dead.

Published: 1:43 pm Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Last modified: 9:17 pm Wednesday, August 20, 2014

TAGS: Japan landslide Hiroshima 27 killed

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