Hiroshima Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 50 as Search Resumes

The death toll from mudslides in Hiroshima rose to 50 today as rescue workers resumed searching for survivors.

Thirty-eight people remained unaccounted for as of 8 a.m., according to Hiroshima police. The search, suspended earlier due to weather conditions, restarted shortly before 11 a.m.

Hillsides drenched by several days of rain gave way on Aug. 20, sending torrents of mud, trees and boulders crashing into homes and buildings in dozens of areas. The search team of about 3,500 including police officers, members of Japan’s Self Defense forces and fire personnel has been hampered in rescue operations by continued downpours that triggered more slides.

The Japan Meteorological Agency maintained an advisory warning for flooding and heavy rainfall this evening in the western Japan city, as more rain is expected. 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. More rain is forecast for tomorrow, the agency said.

More than 1,600 people are still sheltering in 13 evacuation centers, public broadcaster NHK reported on its website. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe postponed a visit to the area today because of poor weather conditions and concern the visit may hamper rescue efforts, NHK reported.

Keiji Furuya, Minister of State for Disaster Management, said today on NHK that he wanted local authorities to issue evacuations orders earlier without fear. Furuya said he also asked the Ministry of Land and the government parties to consider legislative measures that that would make it easier for local authorities to classify areas that at risk of mudslides.

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