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Japan landslide: 20 missing in Atami city

Twenty people are missing in central Japan after a huge landslide hit Atami city following heavy rainfall.

Video on social media showed a torrent of black mud plummeting down from a mountain top and on through the city towards the sea. Several houses were destroyed or buried.

Kyodo news agency reports that the bodies of what appear to be two victims have been found in the port district.

A witness described a “horrible sound” before he fled to higher ground.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has put together a task force to respond to the disaster and the wider emergency caused by heavy rainfall on the Pacific coastline.

Rainfall has been above the average for July for the prefecture of Shizuoka, where Atami, a hot-spring resort, is located. The weather has been similar in neighbouring Kanagawa prefecture.

A witness told national broadcaster NHK: “I heard a horrible sound and saw a mudslide flowing downwards as rescue workers were urging people to evacuate. So I ran to higher ground.”

The mudslide struck at 10:30 local time (01:30 GMT), according to a local resident.

Police, firefighters and members of Japan’s military are involved in a search operation.

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