• Kyodo

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The body of a 3-year-old girl was recovered Sunday, 15 days after she was buried in an earthquake-triggered landslide in a car with her mother and younger brother.

The operation to recover the body of Mayu Minagawa in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, was finished at around 3:25 p.m., prefectural government officials said.

Mayu and her mother, Takako, 39, were killed in the landslide, which swept their car off a road Oct. 23 when deadly earthquakes struck the area.

Mayu’s younger brother, 2-year-old Yuta, was rescued after spending four days in the buried car. Takako, pulled out some two hours later, was pronounced dead.

Yuta was released from a hospital Friday and returned home.

After an autopsy, Mayu’s body was transported to her hometown of Uonuma, Niigata Prefecture, where her father, Manabu, 37, was waiting.

The officials said it took so long to recover the body because a series of aftershocks had raised concerns over workers’ safety.

They said the crushed car was buried with its front end pointing up, and the girl’s body was in the rear passenger seat.

Workers had to dig a path to get to the rear passenger area, the officials said.

During Sunday’s operation, workers kept out of harm’s way by using remote-controlled heavy machinery to remove mud from around the car.

Also on Sunday, construction started on temporary housing in the town of Kawaguchi, one of the hardest-hit areas in the earthquakes.

Niigata officials said some 25,500 people were taking refuge in evacuation centers throughout the prefecture as of Sunday afternoon.

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