A massive landslide hit the mountainous area of Nakatsu City in Kyushu’s Oita Prefecture, Japan on April 11, 2018, leaving at least 1 person dead and 5 missing. There was no significant rain in this region over the past 24 hours, leaving the cause of disaster unknown at this time.
According to police reports, a mountain slope collapsed behind a group of houses at around 03:50 local time in the town of Yabakei in the Yabakei valley, engulfing four houses. The collapsed slope was 200 m (660 feet) wide and up to 100 m (330 feet) high, covered in cedar.
According to the municipal government of Nakatsu, 6 people were initially reported missing. 1 body was recovered from the debris, leaving 5 women aged between 21 and 90 still unaccounted for.
Authorities said some 200 police officers, firefighters and soldiers are still searching the area.
At this time, the cause of the landslide is unknown. This area received less than 0.5 mm (0.02 inches) of rain in the 24 hours to 04:00 JST, leading geologists to suspect past rainfall or an underground water.
Hiroyuki Ono of Sabo & Landslide Technical Center suspects there might have been several small landslides rather than one large.
According to The Japan Times, this area has been designated by the prefectural government as a special area in which potential landslides could damage buildings and threaten the lives of residents.
Featured image: Deadly landslide hits Oita Prefecture, Japan on April 11, 2018. Credit: ANN