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2 bodies found, 20 missing in massive mudslide in central Japan

Tokyo – Two bodies were found, about 20 people still remained missing and at least 10 houses were destroyed on Saturday in a massive mudslide triggered by torrential rain in central Japan.

The disaster occurred at about 10.30 am local time in Atami city in Shizuoka prefecture, as heavy rainfall swept areas along the Pacific coast in central and eastern Japan, reported Xinhua news agency according to the local authorities.

Firefighters are conducting a search and rescue operation in the slide-stricken area for the victims.

The Shizuoka prefectural government has called for help from the Self-Defence Forces in disaster relief.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has held talks with disaster minister Yasufumi Tanahashi over the mudslide and other calamities associated with the rain.

The Japan Meteorological Agency urged maximum alert and called on people to be vigilant over mudslides, flooding and swollen rivers.

In the 72-hour period through 11:00 a.m. Saturday local time, 790 millimeters of rainfall were logged in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, and over 550 millimeters were recorded in Gotemba, Shizuoka Prefecture, the agency said.

Due to rising rivers in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, the local government ordered residents to ensure their safety immediately, issuing the highest level of evacuation alert under the revised basic counter disaster law for the first time in the country.

Torrential rain also disrupted the public transport system. Shinkansen bullet train were temporarily halted in sections between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka, according to operator Central Japan Railway Co.

The seasonal rain front is expected to move toward the Sea of Japan coast over the weekend.

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