Landslide kills at least 36 in Hiroshima

2014-08-20 17:44
In this aerial photo, heavily damaged houses are seen after a massive landslide swept through residential areas in Hiroshima. (Kyodo News, AP)

In this aerial photo, heavily damaged houses are seen after a massive landslide swept through residential areas in Hiroshima. (Kyodo News, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tokyo - Rain-sodden slopes collapsed in torrents of mud, rock and debris on Wednesday in the outskirts of Hiroshima, killing at least 36 people and leaving seven missing, police said.

Public broadcaster NHK showed rescue workers suspended by ropes from police helicopters pulling victims from the rubble. Others gingerly climbed into windows as they searched for survivors in crushed homes.

Hillsides caved in or were swept down into residential areas in at least five valleys in the suburbs of the western Japanese city after heavy rains left slopes unstable.

Hiroshima prefectural police said 36 people were confirmed dead and at least seven others were missing as of Wednesday night. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 15 people were injured, two seriously.

"A few people were washed away and it is hard to know exactly how many are unaccounted for," said local government official Nakatoshi Okamoto, noting that conditions in the disaster area were hindering rescuers.

Authorities issued warnings that additional rain could trigger more landslides and flooding.

Landslides a constant risk

The land collapsed so quickly that evacuation advisories came an hour after the first mudslide, officials acknowledged.

"It's so regrettable," Kyodo News service quoted Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui as saying. "We'll find out what went wrong and take the necessary measures."

Landslides are a constant risk in mountainous, crowded Japan, where many homes are built on or near steep slopes. Torrential rains in the early morning apparently caused slopes to collapse in an area where many of the buildings were newly constructed.

Damage from land and mudslides has increased over the past few decades due to more frequent heavy rains, despite extensive work on stabilizing slopes. In the past decade there have been nearly 1 200 landslides a year, according to the land ministry, up from an average of about 770 a year in the previous decade.

In October last year, multiple mudslides on Izu-Oshima, an island south of Tokyo, killed 35 people, four of whose bodies were never recovered. Those slides followed a typhoon that dumped a record 824mm of rain in a single day.

Read more on:    japan  |  weather

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.