TOKYO • The death toll from a powerful quake that triggered landslides in northern Japan rose to 37 yesterday as tens of thousands of rescue workers raked through the mud for survivors.
The majority of the dead are from the small rural town of Atsuma, where a cluster of dwellings were wrecked when a hillside collapsed from the force of the 6.6-magnitude quake, causing deep brown scars in the landscape.
Public broadcaster NHK said that in the quake-affected areas, 37 were dead, with three people still unaccounted for. More than 640 were injured, it said. It reported that 33 were dead in Atsuma alone.
"We've never had landslides here," said Mr Akira Matsushita, who lost his brother in Atsuma. "I couldn't believe until I saw it with my own eyes," he told TV Asahi. "When I saw it, I knew no one could survive."
Some 40,000 rescue workers, including Self-Defence Forces drafted in specially, were searching for survivors with the aid of bulldozers, sniffer dogs and 75 helicopters, according to the top government spokesman.
"They're doing their best around the clock," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will meet quake survivors in Hokkaido today, according to Jiji Press.