TOKYO — At least six people were confirmed dead and 22 were missing after rain-sodden hills in the outskirts of Hiroshima gave way early Wednesday in several landslides.
Video footage from the national broadcaster NHK showed suburban homes in the western Japanese city surrounded by streams of mud and debris, and residents picking their way over piles of rocks and dirt.
Rescue workers suspended by ropes from police helicopters were pulling victims from the rubble as they searched homes stranded amid piles of lumber from crushed houses.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said six people were confirmed dead and another 22 were missing as of late morning. It said at least 20 people were injured, one seriously.
NHK, citing local police, put the death toll at 18.
Authorities issued warnings that further rains could trigger more landslides and flooding.
Landslides are a constant risk in mountainous, crowded Japan, where many homes are built on or near steep slopes. Torrential rains in the early morning apparently caused slopes to collapse in an area where many of the buildings were newly constructed.