Death Toll in Hiroshima Climbs to 39 People

International News

Hiroshima Received Massive Rains Triggering Landslide

HIROSHIMA – INTERNATIONAL – Search and rescue teams continue digging through debris in Hiroshima Japan after several landslides claimed the lives of at least 39 people.

The dirt and earth buried buildings and crumbled asphalt after the region received a month’s worth of rain in just 24 hours. Some 2500 military personnel worked with rescue teams around the clock searching for those still missing.

Some, like this woman say she’s just happy to be alive as the landslides tore through homes and apartment buildings while people slept.

Officials say Hiroshima usually gets about 9 inches of rain in the month of August, but got about half of that in just one afternoon.

Local media said more than 30 people died in a similar experience about 15 years ago as the geology of the region is particularly vulnerable to landslides. The land slide occurred in a residential area near a mountain in the Hiroshima City outskirts.

The landslides were triggered when an equivalent of a month’s rain fell in the 24 hours leading up to Wednesday morning, Japans weather agency said.

Hiroshima Homes Destroyed

Dozens of houses were buried when hillsides collapsed after torrential downpours in Hiroshima, television pictures showed, leaving rescuers to pick through the devastation for any signs of life.

A spokesman for Hiroshima Police told media that the death toll was still climbing. “The figures may change as the rescue efforts continue,” he warned.

The number of dead had risen rapidly from an initial finding of four, which included a two-year-old boy.

Among the dead was a 53-year-old rescuer, who was killed by a secondary landslide after he had pulled five people to safety, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency reported.

Torrents of brown water raced off the mountains behind the homes and through the wrecked buildings, hampering rescuers’ efforts as they searched for anyone still trapped.

Emergency workers were seen climbing up to the second floor and roofs of half-collapsed houses—some of which were floating—to try to reach any survivors. Aerial footage showed several houses buried in thick slurry, their wooden frames splintered by the weight of the mud.

Pictures showed there had been at least five different landslides. Some uprooted trees and carried rocks down the hillside into the tightly-packed houses that sit on the edge of a commuter belt, in an area where town gives way to farmland.

A man told reporters he had seen everything he owned swept away. “We could hear the earth rumbling and all of a sudden, things roared past us,” he said.

A woman spoke of how she had escaped death because of where she had been at the time the disaster struck. “I was able to survive as I stayed in the middle of the house. Both sides were destroyed.”

Troops were deployed to help in the rescue after a request from the local government.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who abandoned a golfing holiday to deal with the disaster, said considerable resources were pressed into action.

“I have ordered (government officials) to carry out the rescue operation in an integrated manner, aware of the possibility of further rain,” he told reporters in Tokyo.
“I also ordered them to raise the number of Self-Defense Force personnel to several hundred in order to strengthen rescue operations,” he said.

Japan’s weather agency warned more heavy rain was on the way to the area, raising the risk of further landslides in places where tonnes of mud have already been displaced.

The archipelago has been battered in recent weeks by unusually heavy rain that has sparked a number of smaller landslides and several floods, some of which have proved fatal.

Experts said many of the hills are composed of fragmented granite, which can become unstable when waterlogged.

Skyler Paytash

International News

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