Survivor Window Closing In Japan Landslide, 24 Unaccounted For

Japan Self-Defense Force personnel search for missing people at the scene of a landslide following days of heavy rain in Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture on July 5, 2021. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)



More than 1,000 soldiers and rescue workers joined an increasingly desperate search Tuesday for survivors in a Japanese resort town devastated by a landslide three days ago.

Four people have been confirmed dead after the disaster in Atami in central Japan and officials said they were still unable to clarify the fate or whereabouts of 24 other residents.

Helicopter images showed a bleak line of sludge and rubble snaking down a hillside district of Atami, a popular hot-spring destination.


Police search for missing people buried under mud at the scene of a landslide following days of heavy rain in Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture on July 5, 2021. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)


Rescuers trawled through destroyed homes and waded across vast piles of mud at the very end of the 72 hours that experts say are crucial in the race to save lives.

“There is only so much time left… We will give all we have during the time we have left and pray that we will be able to find as many people as possible,” Atami Mayor Sakae Saito told a meeting of local officials on Tuesday morning.

At one point the number of residents unaccounted for stood at more than 100, but officials said they had managed to track most of them down and confirm they were safe.


Police officers search for missing people at the scene of a landslide following days of heavy rain in the Izusan area of Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture on July 6, 2021. (Photo by STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT


“Those who remain unaccounted for stands at 24 individuals,” Saito said at the televised meeting.

Confirming the number of people missing after the disaster has been complicated — many families have summer homes in Atami but actually live elsewhere, while elderly residents may have moved to care homes, local media said.

The landslide descended in several violent waves on Saturday morning during Japan’s annual rainy season.

It followed days of intense downpours in and around Atami, which is around 90 kilometres (55 miles) southwest of Tokyo.


Police officers search for missing people at the scene of a landslide following days of heavy rain in the Izusan area of Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture on July 6, 2021. (Photo by STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT


Pylons were toppled, vehicles buried and buildings tipped from their foundations in the disaster, which wrecked 130 homes and other buildings.

City officials said Monday they had identified one of the dead as 82-year-old Chiyose Suzuki.

Her eldest son Hitoshi, 56, told Kyodo that he regretted not bringing his mother — who could not walk well — with him when police told them to evacuate.

“I should have gone back and taken her out of there myself” instead of leaving her behind, he was quoted as saying.

Suzuki was taken to hospital by rescuers but died there.

Atami reportedly recorded more rainfall in 48 hours than it usually does for the whole of July, and survivors told local media they had never experienced such strong rain in their lives.


Policemen search for missing people at the scene of a landslide following days of heavy rain in Atami, in Shizuoka Prefecture on July 5, 2021. (Photo by STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT


Scientists say climate change is intensifying Japan’s rainy season because a warmer atmosphere holds more water.

In 2018, more than 200 people died as devastating floods inundated western Japan, and last year dozens were killed as the coronavirus pandemic complicated relief efforts.

Over 250 Dead, Millions Affected After Monsoon Rain Ravages South Asia

Indian residents wade along a flooded street carrying their belongings following heavy monsoon rains at Sitamarhi district in the Indian state of Bihar on July 17, 2019. PHOTO: Sachin KUMAR / AFP


Children have been swept away by floodwaters and others killed in landslides caused by heavy monsoon rains across South Asia as the death toll passed 250 on Wednesday.

Across India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, millions of residents have been affected and hundreds of thousands displaced, with homes and boats washed away.

The annual deluge is crucial to replenishing water supplies in the impoverished region, but the downpour from June to September often turns deadly.

In flood-prone Bangladesh, which is crisscrossed by rivers, around one-third of the country is underwater and 59 people have died, officials said.

“It was raining the last few days, the landslide damaged many of our houses and a lot of people are suffering,” said Sanjida Begum in Cox’s Bazar district, home to nearly one million Rohingya Muslim refugees who have fled a military crackdown in Myanmar.

“Children are floating away while crossing these canals, even my nephew was washed away in the canal.”

In India, the death toll rose to at least 100 and in remote areas entire communities were cut off by rising floodwaters which damaged or submerged roads.

“It’s been 15 days (since) this area has been flooded,” a local resident in Assam, where the death toll reached 22, told AFP.

“The damage it has caused is very bad. Cattle have also been affected. Everything has been destroyed.”

Video footage shared on social media showed rescuers pulling a rhinoceros calf from swollen floodwaters in the state’s World Heritage-listed Kaziranga National Park, home to two-thirds of the world’s remaining one-horned rhinos.

In Bihar, which borders Nepal — and like Assam is one of the worst-affected regions in India — locals told AFP they were unable to reach food supplies.

Some 33 deaths have been reported and 2.5 million residents affected in the state. Locals were erecting makeshift shelters on elevated land with the meagre belongings they had salvaged from the floodwaters.

In Mumbai, the number of victims from a building collapse following heavy rains rose to 14.

Mixed outlook

Authorities said floods would worsen in certain regions, while other areas would get some respite over the next few days.

Conditions in Assam state have not improved, officials said, with the army called in to help out with rescue efforts. Water levels in parts of Bihar have receded as the rain has cleared and some sunshine returned.

In the worst-affected district in Bangladesh’s north and central districts, the state-run Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre said major rivers would rise further in the next 24 hours.

The latest victims there were a woman and four children who died after their small boat sank in floodwaters.

Floods are frequent in Bangladesh and in 1998 some 70 percent of the country was briefly underwater in one of the worst deluges in the country’s history.

In Nepal, at least 83 people have died and 17,000 families have been displaced, but people have started to return as water levels recede, Home Ministry spokesman Ram Krishna Subedi told AFP.

Further northwest, in the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir, flash floods killed 23 people.

Seven people from the same family, including five children, were killed when the roof of their house collapsed due to heavy rainfall in Sheikhupura city near Lahore, Pakistani officials said.

Aid agency Save the Children said damaged infrastructure, including roads and bridges, were making it difficult to access remote communities, with thousands of villages cut off.


Death Toll From Philippine Storm, Landslides Climbs To 126

This aerial photo taken on December 29, 201,8 and released on January 6, 201,9 by the Presidential Photographers Division shows flooding due to heavy rain caused by tropical storm Usman in Camarines Sur province. PHOTO: REY BANIQUET / Presidential Photographers Division / AFP


The death toll from a storm that devastated the Philippines shortly after Christmas rose to 126, authorities said on Sunday, adding that landslides caused by torrential rain were the top cause.

The storm hit central and eastern Philippine islands on December 29 and caused massive flooding and landslides. More than 100 people died in the mountainous Bicol region southeast of Manila, regional disaster officials said.

While the Bicol region is often hit by deadly typhoons, many people failed to take necessary precautions because the storm was not strong enough to be rated as a typhoon under the government’s storm alert system, according to civil defence officials.

Officials also said that many residents were reluctant to leave their homes during the Christmas holidays.

“In two days alone, Usman poured more than a month’s worth of rainfall in the Bicol region,” national disaster agency spokesman Edgar Posadas told AFP, using the local name for the storm which had weakened into a low-pressure area.

“Our search and retrieval operations are ongoing but the sticky mud and the unstable soil are a challenge.”

The death toll was likely to climb further with 26 people still missing, Posadas added.

More than 152,000 people were displaced by the storm and 75 were injured, according to the national disaster agency.

President Rodrigo Duterte visited the storm-hit areas on Friday and urged officials to build evacuation centres instead of using schools as shelters for the displaced.

About 20 typhoons and storms batter the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people.

The deadliest in recent years was Super Typhoon Haiyan which left more than 7,360 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in 2013.


Landslides Kill 15 In Indonesia

Search and rescue teams gather for a briefing during a search effort to find victims from the landslide in Sukabumi, West Java Province, Indonesia


Indonesian rescue teams were searching for victims of a series of landslides that killed at least 15 people on New Year’s Day, officials said, after a year of natural disasters killed thousands.

At least 20 people were missing after landslides during heavy rain buried 30 houses in Sukabumi regency, West Java.

“Loose soil is a danger to rescue teams that are working in the field,” said disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

Heavy rain had forced rescuers to suspend the search on Tuesday.

Indonesia is a disaster-prone archipelago that in 2018 suffered its deadliest year in over a decade in a series of earthquakes and tsunamis in different regions killed more than 3,000 people.


Japan Quake, Landslides Leave At Least Nine Dead

Japan Quake, Landslides Leave At Least Nine Dead
Cars are parked along a road damaged by an earthquake in Sapporo, Hokkaido prefecture on September 6, 2018. JIJI PRESS / AFP


Devastating landslides caused by a powerful 6.6-magnitude earthquake in northern Japan claimed at least nine lives on Thursday, with dozens still missing as homes were engulfed.

Multiple, large-scale landslides struck the sparsely populated countryside, which was also hit by the edge of a powerful typhoon that surged through Japan earlier this week.

Aerial views showed dozens of houses destroyed at the bottom of a hill, with a rescue helicopter winching a resident to safety.

Around three million homes lost power after the quake damaged a major thermal plant supplying the region.

The Tomari nuclear power plant in Hokkaido, which was not operational before the quake, was forced to turn to emergency backup power to keep its cooling system working, NHK said.

Kazuo Kibayashi, a town official at hard-hit Abira town, told AFP: “There was a sudden, extreme jolt. I felt it went sideways, not up-and-down, for about two to three minutes.”

“It stopped before shaking started again. I felt it come in two waves. I am 51, and I have never experienced anything like this. I thought my house was going to collapse. Everything inside my house was all jumbled up. I didn’t have time to even start cleaning,” he added.

Moments after the initial quake, an aftershock measuring 5.3 rocked the area and dozens more aftershocks followed throughout the night and into the morning.

Akira Fukui, from the main city of Sapporo, told AFP: “I woke up around 3am with a vertical jolt. I put the light on but it went out shortly afterwards. All the traffic lights are out and there’s no power at work.”

No tsunami warning was issued after the relatively shallow quake, which struck 62 kilometres (39 miles) southeast of the regional capital Sapporo.

“We will do our best to save lives,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after an emergency cabinet meeting.

NHK reported that nine people had lost their lives, many of them in the village of Atsuma, where the landslide engulfed the homes. Thirty-three people were still missing, the broadcaster added.

Local media said the dead also included an 82-year-old man who fell down the stairs at his home during the quake and that around 130 people had sustained minor injuries.

Around 20,000 rescue workers, including police and members of the Self-Defence Forces were responding to the disaster, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said. Another 20,000 SDF troops are expected to join the effort.

“I urge people in areas shaken by strong quakes to stay calm, pay attention to evacuation information… and help each other,” Suga added.

“It’s going to rain (in Hokkaido). Please be very careful of further landslides,” the spokesman warned.

Japan is still recovering from the worst typhoon to hit the country in 25 years, which struck the western part of the country on Tuesday, claiming at least 11 lives and causing major damage to the region’s main airport.

– ‘Ring of fire’ –

Officials warned of the danger of fresh quakes.

“Large quakes often occur, especially within two to three days (of a big one),” said Toshiyuki Matsumori, in charge of monitoring earthquakes and tsunamis at the meteorological agency.

The risk of housing collapses and landslides had increased, he said, urging residents “to pay full attention to seismic activity and rainfall and not to go into dangerous areas.”

The earthquake also caused travel disruption, with all flights cancelled from Sapporo’s main Chitose airport, where the quake brought down part of a ceiling and burst a water pipe. Local buses and trains and bullet train services were halted.

A friendly football match between Japan and Chile planned for Sapporo was cancelled, with the Japanese FA citing the quake’s severe impact on power and transport.

Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said it would take “at least a week” for power to be restored to nearly three million homes after a fire in the area’s largest thermal plant was discovered.

And the national meteorological agency warned that more bad weather could be on the way for Hokkaido, urging people to be vigilant for landslides, high tides and heavy rain.

Japan sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where many of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.

In June, a deadly tremor rocked the Osaka region, killing five people and injuring over 350.

On March 11, 2011, a devastating 9.0-magnitude quake struck under the Pacific Ocean, and the resulting tsunami caused widespread damage and claimed thousands of lives.


26 Dead From Landslides After Philippine Storm

Landslides triggered by Tropical Storm Kai-Tak have killed 26 people and 23 more are missing in the eastern Philippines, authorities said Sunday.

The deaths were reported in the small island province of Biliran, a day after the storm pounded the east of the archipelago nation.

Kai-Tak tore across the major islands of Samar and Leyte on Saturday, toppling power lines in 39 towns or cities and damaging roads and bridges, the national disaster agency said.

Some 87,700 people were forced from their homes in the region. But the previous death toll had stood at just three.

“There is a total of 26 people dead from landslides in four towns of Biliran. We have recovered the bodies,” Sofronio Dacillo, provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer, told AFP.

Gerardo Espina, governor of the island province just east of Leyte, gave the same figure for deaths in an interview on ABS-CBN television. He said 23 people were missing.

The national disaster risk reduction agency could not immediately confirm if the 26 deaths in Biliran included the initial three fatalities it reported on Saturday.

Kai-Tak weakened on Sunday afternoon, with gusts of up to 80 kilometres (50 miles) an hour, and was reclassified as a tropical depression, state weather forecasters said.

But disaster officials warned that more floods and landslides were possible and said 15,500 passengers were stranded because ferry services remained suspended in parts of the region.

“I’ve been stranded for three days, sleeping in the bus, and I just want to get home to my family for Christmas,” Eliaquin Pilapil, a 55-year-old farmer, told AFP from a port in the town of Matnog in the eastern province of Sorsogon.

The Christmas holidays are a busy travel season in the mainly Catholic Philippines, with people heading home to the provinces.

The nation is battered by about 20 major storms each year.

Samar and Leyte bore the brunt in 2013 of Super Typhoon Haiyan which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing.

In the Leyte city of Tacloban, Saturday’s storm brought flash floods of up to 1.5 metres (five feet) and strong winds that left the city without power and water, according to its disaster office chief.

“The storm moved so slowly that it brought so much rain to our city. The floods resulted from four days of rain,” Ildebrando Bernadas, head of Tacloban’s disaster risk reduction office, told AFP.

Bernadas said 82 percent of Tacloban’s districts were flooded.