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Soldiers Join Search for Missing After Landslide in Northern Japan

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Soldiers Join Search for Missing After Landslide in Northern Japan

A landslide in northern Japan destroyed about a dozen homes on Saturday, leaving at least two people missing, and troops were on their way to assist in the rescue effort, officials said.

Two people, a man and a woman, were rescued from homes buried in dirt that had fallen down a nearby mountain in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture, Japan’s northwesternmost prefecture. More residents, however, were feared to be trapped beneath the rubble.

According to police, a rescue operation involving 80 firefighters and police officers began shortly after midnight after a call for assistance was received. Yamagata official Susumu Saito said the prefecture has also requested rescue assistance from the Ministry of Defense.

Soldiers Join Search for Missing After Landslide in Northern Japan

“We haven’t heard anything about their arrival yet, but an official request has been made,” he said.

As a precaution, some nearby residents have been evacuated to a public facility. According to Saito, at least two people are still missing.

Soldiers Join Search for Missing After Landslide in Northern Japan

According to police, the two people who were rescued suffered minor injuries.

Japan is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding due to its mountainous terrain. The announcement came as families prepared to celebrate New Year’s, Japan’s most important festival.

Japan boosting use of digital tools for disaster mitigation

From chat bots that confirm residents’ safety to flood sensors, an increasing number of municipalities in Japan are undergoing a digital transformation to improve disaster prevention.

With the severity of damage caused by torrential rains and typhoons increasing, local governments are refocusing their efforts to ensure residents’ safety by obtaining weather data quickly and providing accurate information useful for disaster prevention. The use of digital technologies is also meant to lighten the load on local government workers involved in disaster management.

This year, the land ministry collaborated with five municipalities and businesses to conduct demonstration tests to detect flooding using small sensors installed on electricity poles and alongside waterways.

39 sensors were installed in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, primarily in urban areas that had previously experienced flooding. They detected rising water levels with pinpoint accuracy.

Soldiers Join Search for Missing After Landslide in Northern Japan

“We’ve confirmed that we can assess situations in urban areas without on-site inspections by our employees,” said a city official.

Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward began receiving weather and river information from a private weather information service provider this year. The information is available on a ward-run website. It enables residents to check weather data and disaster risk levels online at any time.

“The data also help improve the disaster response capabilities of our workers who are not disaster prevention specialists,” said a ward official.

In February, the city of Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, used an interactive chat bot app that simulates human conversation on the free messaging service Line to confirm the safety of residents in need of evacuation assistance. The chat bot was created in collaboration with state-affiliated research institutions and Weathernews.

A municipality in Kanagawa Prefecture tested an AI-based evacuation assistance system that recommends actions to residents based on the information they provide.

Tatsuya Unozawa, a Weathernews weather forecaster who helped develop the chat bot, emphasized the importance of digital transformation in disaster prevention, saying that the change will allow local governments to exchange information with their residents in real time.

“Weather information is also information for disaster prevention,” he explained.

Many municipalities have workers who evaluate disaster situations and those who call on residents to evacuate, which may impede the smooth provision of accurate information.

“Digital transformation in disaster prevention can be used to bridge information gaps among municipal disaster management workers,” Unozawa said.

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The CTNNews editorial team comprises seasoned journalists and writers dedicated to delivering accurate, timely news coverage. They possess a deep understanding of current events, ensuring insightful analysis. With their expertise, the team crafts compelling stories that resonate with readers, keeping them informed on global happenings.

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