Rescue Efforts Hampered in Hiroshima as 42 Confirmed Dead

Landslide in Hiroshima
Houses sit destroyed by a landslide caused by torrential rain in Hiroshima, Japan, on August 20, 2014. Photographer: Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

Military, police and fire personnel searched through the night for missing victims after downpours in Hiroshima triggered a series of deadly landslides this week.

The death toll rose to 42, with 43 people still unaccounted for and about 1,700 in evacuation centers, Michiko Asaki at the city’s disaster control headquarters said today. Hillsides drenched by several days of rain gave way, sending torrents of mud, trees and boulders crashing into homes and buildings in dozens of areas.

At least one rescue worker was among the dead, the Sankei newspaper reported, citing the Hiroshima fire department.

Danger of further slides as rains continued during the past three days have slowed the efforts of a rescue force some 2,800 strong, NHK reported. The Japan Meteorological Agency maintained an advisory warning of further thunderstorms, forecasting at least a 50 percent chance of rain today and tomorrow.

A record 217.5 millimeters (about 8.5 inches) of rain fell in parts of Hiroshima over three hours on Aug. 20, according to the weather agency.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the city, which lies about 800 kilometers (500 miles) west of Tokyo, tomorrow to inspect damage caused by the landslides, Kyodo News reported, citing a government official it didn’t name.

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