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Aerial view of Japan landslide

Death toll climbs after Japan landslide

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Andrea Bagley
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, August 20, 2014, 8:31 AM - Residents combed through mud and debris looking for bodies of their loved ones after heavy rains triggered landslides that swallowed up homes in the western Japanese city of Hiroshima on Wednesday.

The landslides killed at least 27 people, including a two-year-old boy who was buried alive, authorities said.

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At least 10 others are missing. Authorities fear the number could be much higher since the landslides hit a crowded residential area.

Among the missing is the 11-year-old brother of the boy who died.

Over 60,000 residents have been urged to evacuate because of the continued risk of floods and landslides. Schools have also been turned into shelters for evacuees, officials say.

Heavy rains have pounded the area. In the last 24 hours, it received a record 240 mm of rain, the Kyodo news agency said.

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

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