Rains raise risk for search after Japan landslides

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Associated Press

Posted on August 22, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 22 at 7:02 AM

TOKYO (AP) — Forecasts for more heavy rains in western Japan raised the risk Friday of further landslides in Hiroshima, hindering efforts to locate dozens of people still missing after hills around the city collapsed earlier this week.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 40 people were confirmed dead and 47 still unaccounted for after torrents of mud, rocks and timber swept through at least five valleys in Hiroshima's suburbs after heavy rains Wednesday. Dozens more were injured.

Among those killed was a rescue worker who was swept away by sliding land while trying to rescue a 3-year-old boy, who also died.

About 2,800 police and military personnel have been searching for the victims, at times suspending their work to reduce risks from further slides.

Authorities issued evacuation orders Friday for 4,386 people in Hiroshima due to fears of further danger, and a warning for 164,000 others.

The disaster has prompted questions over why so many houses were built near unstable slopes and why an evacuation advisory came an hour after the first mudslide.

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