One dead, several missing after landslide engulfs houses in southern Japan

Rescue workers search for missing people at the site where houses were buried in a landslide at Yabakei town in Nakatsu, Oita Prefecture, southwestern Japan, in this aerial view photo taken by Kyodo April 11, 2018. Reuters

A man died and several other people are missing after a landslide engulfed four houses in the mountainous area of Nakatsu City on Kyushu island in southern Japan on Wednesday, the local police said. However, the cause of the landslide is still not known.

"A man's body has been recovered" at the site of the landslide in a mountainous area of Nakatsu city," a municipal official told AFP.

The local officials said that the body had not yet been identified. However, Japan's NHK television reported that the man was among six people who had been reported missing by a local resident.

Kyodo News report said that a mountain slope collapsed behind a group of houses at around 3.50am in the town of Yabakei. The police said that the collapsed slope, which was covered in cedar, was 100m wide and 50m to 60m high

The picturesque town located in Yabakei valley draws around 800,000 tourists annually. "Six people (believed to be in the buried homes) are unaccounted for," an official said earlier. He added that a resident in the neighbourhood called for help. Kyodo News reported that the missing include a man in his 40s and five women aged in their 20s to 90s.

Reports said that almost 200 police officers and firefighters were deployed in the search and rescue operation. Meanwhile, the troops have also launched a rescue mission.

The local television footage showed rescuers and a digger clearing rocks and mud more than 10 hours after the disaster.