Japan Mudslide Leaves at Least 19 People Missing

TOKYO—A powerful mudslide crashed into rows of houses in a town southwest of Tokyo on Saturday, leaving at least 19 people missing, officials said.

Carrying a deluge of black water and debris, it may have buried dozens of homes in Atami, a town known for hot springs. said Shizuoka prefecture spokesman Takamichi Sugiyama. Public broadcaster NHK gave the number of missing people at 20, but Mr. Sugiyama said the prefecture confirmed at least 19, although he said the number may grow.

Torrential rains slamming parts of Japan in recent days have loosened soil, experts said, increasing landslide risks in a country filled with valleys and mountains.

Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu told reporters that the Coast Guard had discovered two people who had been washed into the sea by the mudslide. Their hearts had stopped, but their deaths were not yet officially declared, he said. Other details of their identity weren’t released.

“I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who has suffered,” he said, adding that utmost efforts will be made to rescue lives.