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39 dead, 43 missing after landslide in W. Japan

Xinhua, August 22, 2014 Adjust font size:

A total of 39 people were confirmed dead while the figure of those missing soared 43 as search and rescue operations continued Thursday in Hiroshima Prefecture in western Japan, following Wednesday's massive landslides triggered by torrential rain, local press reported.

People who went missing rose sharply from the previous day's seven to Thursday's 43 as 2,700 police, firefighters and Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force personnel were involved in rescue operations.

The report quoted the police as saying that the latest figure for those missing came as a result of cross-checking information with firefighters.

An analysis of aerial photos showed landslides at 31 places in the western Japan city, signaling the seriousness of the disaster which took place from late Tuesday to early Wednesday.

Japan's Disaster Management Minister Keiji Furuya visited disaster-hit Asaminami Ward of Hiroshima and vowed to make all-out efforts to find the missing people, while a Japanese research institute under the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry also continued surveying the cause of the landslides.

Hiroshima was hit by torrential rain in the early hours of Wednesday with more than 100 mm of rain per hour recorded, triggering dozens of reports of people buried alive or washed away in flooding.

Asakita Ward of Hiroshima was one of the hardest hit areas with a record 217.5 mm of rain falling in the three hours from 1:30 a.m. local time Wednesday.

According to reports, a 2-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy who were both buried in a mudslide, as well as a rescue worker were among the victims of the disaster.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said Thursday heavy rain is expected to fall in a wide range of areas from western Japan to northern Japan between Friday and Saturday, warning of sediment disasters, sudden floods, twisters and lightning. As rescue operations continue, the casualty figures in the disaster are likely to rise further, it was learned.

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