At least 10 people were killed and four others are missing after torrential rain triggered landslides in Fukushima and Tochigi prefectures early Thursday, officials said.
Ground Self-Defense Force troops and local rescuers were mobilized to search for the missing and help evacuate residents stranded in rivers of mud.
The deaths of nine people in Fukushima Prefecture and one in Tochigi Prefecture were caused by heavy rain, local police reported. According to Fukushima Prefectural Police, a hill behind Karamatsu-so, a welfare facility for the mentally disabled in the village of Nishigo, collapsed around 5 a.m. Thursday and crushed the two-story concrete building, burying six female residents.
Kimi Senzaki, 64, was rescued with injuries, but Mitsuko Kurumada, 70, and the four others were later found dead, police said, adding that 145 other residents and employees at the facility escaped to safety. Karamatsu-so is one of the facilities in the Taiyo no Kuni (Land of the Sun) welfare complex operated by the prefectural government.
A family of four in the village was also buried after a landslide crushed their home, police said, killing Kimio Suzuki, 47, and his wife, Keiko, 48. Their two daughters, however, were rescued. In the village of Oshin, Fukushima Prefecture, 12-year-old Suguru Soeda died after his home was buried in a mudslide, police said.
In the summer resort of Nasu in nearby Tochigi Prefecture, five residents were listed as missing after about 10 homes were washed away by a flooded river, town officials said. While helicopters worked to rescue about 35 residents stranded on rooftops by the flooding, police and firefighters searched for the five until Thursday evening, finding one, Ichiro Murakawa, 60, of Wako, Saitama Prefecture, later in the evening, the officials said.
Heavy rain hit parts of eastern and northeastern Japan, with 535 mm recorded in Nasu, 325 mm in Naganuma and 233 mm in Shirakawa, both in Fukushima Prefecture, during the 24-hour period to 1 p.m. Thursday. The Meteorological Agency said the downpour was triggered by a front hovering between eastern Hokkaido and the northern Kanto region.
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