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Officials race to rescue survivors in Japan after devastating landslide

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Rodrigo Cokting
Staff writer

Saturday, August 23, 2014, 3:53 PM - The death toll continues to rise in Hiroshima, Japan where heavy rains triggered devastating landslides.

At least 42 are confirmed dead with another 43 missing, officials told local media earlier today.

More than 3000 rescue personnel are working around the clock to find those that haven't been accounted for as their chances of survival sharply decrease after 72 hours, which passed Saturday morning.

Mud and debris are covering the city making rescue operations difficult. Continuous rain also forced personnel to temporarily halt their work on Friday as the threat for further landslides remains in the area.


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Up to 100,000 people had to be evacuated in the city while schools were turned into shelters. Heavy rains have pounded the area. On Wednesday, it received a record 240 mm of rain, the Kyodo news agency said. That's roughly the equivalent of month's worth of rain.

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

"Damage from land and mudslides has increased over the past few decades due to more frequent heavy rains, despite extensive work on stabilizing slopes," The Associated Press reports. "In the past decade there have been nearly 1,200 landslides a year, according to the land ministry, up from an average of about 770 a year in the previous decade."
With files from CNN and Andrea Bagley

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