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Friday October 18, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday October 18, 2013 MYT 7:26:13 AM
Leaving no stone unturned: Police rescue officers searching for survivors after a landslide caused by heavy rains brought on by typhoon Wipha buried houses in Oshima island. — AFP
OSHIMA: Rescuers in Japan picked through mud and splintered houses after a typhoon that killed at least 19 people, as hopes faded for dozens not seen since a landslide engulfed their homes.
Hundreds of police, firefighters and troops searched through the night in an area where buildings were swallowed when a mountainside collapsed.
Typhoon Wipha, dubbed the strongest in a decade, never actually made landfall as it surged past Japan, but violent winds and torrential rain set off mudslides that buried neighbourhoods on Oshima.
At least 18 people died and 35 were still missing on the island, which lies 120km south of the Japanese capital, a local official and media said.
One woman died in western Tokyo, police have said.
On Oshima, about 15 police officers spent the morning using chainsaws and shovels to free the body of an elderly woman buried in mud and the smashed remains of a wooden building, a reporter said.
The woman was formally pronounced dead later in the day, taking the toll to 19.
Elsewhere troops, who arrived on the island on Wednesday morning just hours after it was raked by the storm, fanned out on paths up a mountainside shouting: “Is there anybody there?”
Spokesman Yoshinori Sano said the men were “hopeful” of finding survivors among the devastation.
“A total of 278 of us came yesterday, and we have been looking for survivors since then, without sleep or rest,” he said.
Resident Tadashi Sogi said his house had been swept 30m, with much of it engulfed by the thick mud.
As he loaded his car with a few salvaged belongings – including a photograph album – he said he was going back to join the rescue effort.
Some of the roughly 8,000 people who live on the island had sought shelter in evacuation centres as the huge storm approached, reporting water gushing into their homes as it dumped more than 12cm of rain on Oshima in an hour. — AFP
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