Rescuers search for missing in Japan amid fresh slide risks

TOKYO (AP), Rescue workers were faced with more mudslides Tuesday as more than 20 people were still missing after a torrential mud-and-debris swept through a Japanese resort town, killing at least four.Around 2,000 rescuers were deployed to the disaster-stricken Atami area. Dogs and workers searched homes that had been damaged and filled with mud during Saturday's catastrophe. The risk of more mudslides sometimes caused delays in operations, and a slight rain continued to fall.Sakae Saito, Atami Mayor, stated that we will do our best to save as many lives possible.Late Monday, the city released the names and addresses of over 60 people who were still unaccounted for. Most of them have responded since then. There were still 29 unaccounted-for people as of Tuesday afternoon.Officials double-checked the number as many apartments and houses in Atami were vacation rentals or second homes. Officials said that 25 people were rescued, three of whom were injured, in addition to the four dead.Prime Minister Yoshihide Sug faces an additional challenge as authorities prepare to host the Tokyo Olympics in just three weeks. Japan continues to struggle with the coronavirus epidemic. The number of cases is steadily rising in Tokyo and experts suggest a need for an additional state of emergency.After days of heavy rains in Atami, the landslide took place on a steep hillside. It ripped through Izusan, which is known for its hot springs and shrine, as well as its shopping streets. It is located approximately 100 km (60 miles) south of Tokyo and has a population of 36 800.Tuesday saw officials begin to investigate the causes of the catastrophe. Experts from the government visited the site thought to have caused the mudslide. They also flew a drone to conduct an aerial survey.Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu, a local inspector who visited the site Monday where the mudslide is believed to have begun, stated that rain had soaked into the mountainside, which apparently caused the ground to become weaker under a huge pile of soil from a construction site. The slope then fell.Continue the storyThe prefecture is currently investigating a planned land-development in the area. It was abandoned reportedly after its operator ran into financial difficulties.Although 660,000 areas in Japan have been identified as being prone to mudslides, the public is not aware of these designations and are not widely known. The end of Japan's rainy season in July is often marked by deadly flooding and mudslides. Experts believe that the climate change is making it worse.Authorities were reminding people living near hillsides and areas at high risk of heavy downpours in other parts of the country to be cautious.Nearly 80 people were killed in flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains in Kumamoto, four prefectures in Kyushu in southern Japan, a year ago. Twenty people were killed when hillsides collapsed in Hiroshima's crowded residential areas. 40 people were killed by flooding and mudslides in the Kyushu area in 2017.