At least 27 people have been killed and 13 others are declared missing after a landslide triggered by heavy rains struck Hiroshima in southern Japan on Wednesday, according to Agence France-Presse, or AFP. Local authorities had reportedly issued warnings about landslides through the week and extended it on Wednesday, predicting a prolonged downpour.
Hiroshima received more than 204 millimeters of rain in just three hours, according to NHK, a local news network. About 20 people were either buried alive or were washed away by floods, Kyodo News reported, citing police officials. While about 30 members from the Ground Self-Defense Forces, which is responsible for on-ground military operations, are present at the location, the government reportedly said that the number of troops would be increased to 630 to assist in rescue operations.
“A few people were washed away and it is hard to know exactly how many are unaccounted for," Nakatoshi Okamoto, a local government official, said according to Associated Press, or AP, adding that the rubble in the area was making it difficult to account for all the missing people.
Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency, said, according to AP, that nearly 22 people were missing, while another 20 were injured of whom one was in critical condition. AP's report put the death toll at six so far.
Nagasaki, which lies 261 miles south of Hiroshima, and other regions in the country, are also witnessing heavy rains, NHK reported Wednesday, adding that officials have issued flood and landslide warnings across the country.
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Over the last decade, Japan has witnessed nearly 1,200 landslides a year, a steep increase from an average of about 770 a year in the previous decade, AP reported, citing officials from Japan’s land ministry.