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At least 36 people are dead and several more are missing after heavy downpours brought landslides to the western city of Hiroshima on Wednesday.
The New York Times reported that the torrential rains caused major flooding and landslides around 3:30 a.m. local time. Officials said that some of the victims had been buried alive under the mud and rock.
“A few people were washed away and it is hard to know exactly how many are unaccounted for,” said local government official Nakatoshi Okamoto.
Reuters noted that according to Japan's Meteorological Agency, the deadly landslides were triggered after about a month’s worth of rain fell in the region during a 24-hour period. Authorities have said that even more heavy rain in the area is likely.
Landslides are a risk in the mountainous region of Japan and the threat has become greater in recent years due to more frequent rainfall.
Several hundred soldiers with the Japanese military have been sent to assist with the rescue efforts.