TOKYO (AFP) - The search for more than 50 people still missing after catastrophic landslides in Japan was halted on Friday because of fears for the safety of rescuers.
"Operations in (two districts) were halted as mountains there were becoming misshapen," a Hiroshima police spokesman said. Rescuers have been "evacuated as there is a risk of a fresh landslide".
The order came two days after a rescuer was killed when he was buried by a secondary landslip as he tried to carry a three-year-old boy to safety following one of the worst mudslides in recent years.
Mr Takatoshi Okamoto, a spokesman for Hiroshima City's disaster management, said the order had come from the central government. "We have been informed that the shape of the surface in the mountain appeared to have changed because of the rain we have had today.
"Vice-Disaster Management Minister (Yasutoshi) Nishimura ordered us to suspend rescue operations in the particular area. We don't know the impact of the suspension on the entire operations."
Meteorologists have warned of possible heavy rain falling almost continually from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening.