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At least 36 dead in Hiroshima landslide



BY ELAINE KURTENBACH

(Reuters) - At least 36 people, including several children, were killed in Japan on Wednesday, when landslides triggered by torrential rain slammed into the outskirts of the western city of Hiroshima, and the toll could rise further, police said.

Seven people were missing after a month's worth of rain fell overnight, loosening slopes already saturated by heavy rain over the past few weeks.

"There was rain and thunder all night, beating down so hard I was scared to go outside," a resident told Fuji TV. "Great big drops. I've never seen anything like this."

Helicopters clattered overhead, lifting out survivors, as rescue workers searched through mud and piles of stones in residential areas about 5 km (3 miles) from the city centre.

Among those dug out of the debris were two brothers, aged eleven and two, whose house was struck as they slept.

A child's red school bag, covered in mud, lay in the debris. Houses had been pushed 100 metres (yards) by the landslide in the worst-hit area, where thick, knee-high mud hampered rescue efforts.

"The rain was just pouring down and the street in front of my house turned into a river," a man in his 70s told national television NHK.

Hiroshima city authorities issued an evacuation advisory notice about an hour after the first landslide on Wednesday.

"Something went wrong in our analysis (of the situation) ... We failed to issue an evacuation advisory ahead of the disaster. Looking back, I believe this is something we need to amend," an official at the city's fire department said.

The soil in the area was of a kind that absorbed water until it suddenly loosened and slid, increasing the danger, disaster management experts told NHK.

Cities in land-scarce Japan often expand into mountainous areas, leaving such development vulnerable to landslides.

About 240 mm (9 inches) of rain fell in the area in the 24 hours up to Wednesday morning, a record-breaking level equivalent to a month's worth of rain in a usual August, the Meteorological Agency said. Roughly half of that rain fell in one hour on Wednesday.

The force of the landslide crumbled asphalt roads, while streams of mud tore through neighbourhoods, turning houses into piles of twisted wreckage. Boulders with a diameter of as much as three metres (yards) lay scattered around.

More rain was likely in western Japan later on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cut short his summer vacation to head back to Tokyo. He said he would dispatch several hundred military personnel to help with rescue efforts. By Wednesday evening, about 500 such troops had been sent in.

Landslides killed 31 people in Hiroshima in 1999, including six in the same area hit this time.

(Writing by Elaine Lies, Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez)

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bigshadyobama August 20 2014 at 12:25 PM

WILL THERE BE LOOTING LIKE THE NON-AMERICANS IN FERGUSON

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3 replies
Jay August 20 2014 at 5:22 AM

How very sad. I pray for the families that have lost loved ones.

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1 reply
madcap.1 Jay August 20 2014 at 1:44 PM

are you going to pray for the whales that the japanese slaughter every year. they are more deseved of your prayers than the japanese

Flag Reply 0 rate up
FRED August 20 2014 at 5:54 AM

Come on Algore, millions of dollars are calling you. With Aljazera not paying you for you TV station, you might think about flying in your Gulfstream to see how much you can collect.

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1 reply
stephen.sybert FRED August 20 2014 at 10:11 AM

Huggies leaking?

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olderbutwizer August 20 2014 at 5:34 AM

I thought this city was destroyed in WWII..

Flag Reply +2 rate up
5 replies
fishinsolitude August 20 2014 at 7:01 AM

This is sad. At least 18 people lost their lives in this horrible mudslide. What's also sad is the loss of live was completely preventable, and we see this same sort of thing too often. Homes built on steep slopes with poor drainage in areas where heavy rains are common. We must also take in to consideration Japan has very little 'good' buildable land, so this is the outcome.
Better city planning is needed.

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1 reply
Kate fishinsolitude August 20 2014 at 11:25 AM

It wasn't completely preventable, but their emergency warning system definitely fell down on this one, and they are typically much better.

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madcap.1 August 20 2014 at 1:43 PM

KARMA, go kill a few more whales
why dont you

Flag Reply 0 rate up
aristocat101 August 20 2014 at 1:23 PM

I feel sorry for the children and innocent animals and the good adults there, but there are too many people who torture and kill animals and if they died it would be a good thing.

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calderasf August 20 2014 at 12:51 PM

The new normal all over the world we're seeing more and more massive rain falls from climate change all that melted ice needs to go somewhere and it's ending up in clouds

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1 reply
bubbreed calderasf August 20 2014 at 1:15 PM

You're from California right?

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cbstinc August 20 2014 at 11:41 AM

Why do people keeps building their houses on the botton of the hills..landslide happens all the time. and they continue building houses on the botton of the hills..it happens everywere in the world..and still people goes on and build at the booton of the hill..we can't stop nature..

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1 reply
calderasf cbstinc August 20 2014 at 12:54 PM

cause we're running out of land and with climate change we now get unnatural rainfall amounts in 1 day

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Kate August 20 2014 at 11:22 AM

They certainly never had a chance. That is indeed horrifying, and I feel terrible for everyone who lost a family member or friend.

That official was right: they are usually more better at predicting this kind of event, and I certainly hope that they won't allow it to happen again.

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