Authorities in the coastal town of Atami (central Japan) were still without news of 24 people on Tuesday, July 6, three days after the massive mudslide caused by torrential rains that washed away dozens of homes.
Sakae Saito, mayor of Atami, said in a morning televised meeting with local officials that dozens of people called to confirm they were alive after the municipality released a list of 64 residents likely to be seated. ‘to be found in the path of the mudslide. ” Now, [le nombre de] those who remain untraceable amounts to 24 ”, said the mayor.
The landslide and mudslide occurred Saturday after several days of intense rains in Atami, a seaside resort built on the mountainside, and its surroundings. The official death toll is, at this stage, four dead. Authorities have had difficulty locating some people as many houses are being used as second homes, according to local media.
Some 1,100 rescuers resumed their search early Tuesday morning, trying to make their way through the multitude of mud-covered debris. Three days after the disaster, Atami still presented a spectacle of desolation with houses gutted, cars overturned and impassable streets.
According to experts, the first 72 hours of a crisis are essential in trying to save lives. “We will do whatever we can (…) and pray that we can find as many people as possible ”, Saito said.
Much of Japan is currently in the midst of the rainy season, which often causes flooding and landslides. Scientists say the phenomenon is exacerbated by climate change, as a warmer atmosphere holds more water, increasing the risk and intensity of extreme precipitation.
Atami, located about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, received a total of 313 mm of rain on Friday and Saturday, while it averages 242 mm each year for the entire month of July.