TOKYO, Japan: Rain slowed Japanese rescuers’ search for 20 people on Sunday, who remain missing after landslides struck the central city of Atami.
Two women are known dead following the landslide.
Nineteen people have been rescued, with 2 injured, as some 130 buildings were affected after floods, landslides and cascading mud rushed into populated areas. Also, houses were left partially submerged, said a spokesman for Atami.
“I just wanted to cry,” said Naoto Date, a 55-year-old actor who returned to his hometown Saturday to check the damage, as quoted by Reuters.
“That area is in a valley between the mountains and there’s a small river flowing through it. Above that small river there’s a steep slope and the mudslide rushed down the slope and it became a river,” Date said.
“As many elderly people were living there, the thought that there might be people who failed to escape from the disaster makes me really sad,” he said.
Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga asked people in the landslide areas to remain on alert and make preparations, following a Sunday cabinet meetings in which officials discussed the disaster and heavy rains in central and eastern Japan.
In Atami, 700 rescuers from the police, firefighters and military continued the search for the missing residents. However, rescue operations have been interrupted twice due to warnings about new landslides.
The landslides struck the city around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. Atami is home to hot spring resorts and located on a steep slope leading to a bay.
Media has shown images of collapsed and half-submerged houses, partially submerged cars and rescue workers wading through waist-high water.