The dead were found in the port city of Atami. Authorities believe the mudslides moved the bodies away.
Television footage showed how electricity in Atami destroyed some buildings and buried others. People and emergency services could also be seen running away when the mudslide fell on the hillside road.
“The condition of 19 people is unknown,” said a Shizuoka Prefectural official in charge of disaster relief after the landslide. The local government requested military assistance for a rescue mission. He added that several homes were razed and 200 homes in the area were without electricity.
Most of Japan is currently going through the rainy season, which often causes floods and landslides, forcing people to flee their homes. In the 48 hours to midnight Saturday, 313 millimeters of rain fell in Atami. That’s significantly more than the monthly average of 242.5 mm for the entire month of July, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
Shinkansen high-speed train service between Tokyo and Osaka has been temporarily suspended due to heavy rain, while other local trains have also been closed in the affected areas, according to railway companies’ websites.
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