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Japan: Death Toll from Landslides Could Double to 80

  • VOA News

Firefighters search for survivors in the rain at a site where a landslide swept through a residential area at Asaminami ward in Hiroshima, western Japan, August 22, 2014.

Japanese officials said the death toll could double to over 80 from landslides that buried dozens of homes on the outskirts of Hiroshima earlier this week.

Officials said Friday the number of missing people rose to 52. That is in addition to the 39 people already confirmed dead in the Wednesday landslides.

The search has been temporarily called off because of heavy rains that are expected to continue until Saturday and that could create more landslides.

Those fears were heightened when a firefighter and a child he was trying to carry to safety were swept away and killed by a secondary landslide on Wednesday.

The area received about 24 millimeters, or about a month's worth, of rain within a 24-hour period ending Wednesday, loosening hills already soaked by recent storms.

Landslides pose a major risk in crowded Japan, where many homes are built on or near steep slopes.