Mudslide after heavy rain

On Saturday 3 July, a massive landslide buried several houses in Atami, Japan. An extremely difficult mission for the search and rescue dog teams of our member or­ga­ni­sa­ti­on Rescue Dog Trainer's As­so­cia­tion (RDTA).

The night before the disaster, heavy mon­soon rains had softened the ground above the popular tourist resort of Atami in Shi­zu­oka Pre­fec­ture, about 90 kilometres south­west of Tokyo. In a short time, it rained as much as it usually does in the whole month of July. The result was three consecutive mudslides that stretched over a length of about two kilo­metres and destroyed or dam­aged about 130 houses. Ac­cord­ing to initial information from the mu­nici­pal­ity, more than 20 in­hab­it­ants were considered missing.

Only 15 minutes after the incident, the Japa­nese search and rescue dog or­ga­ni­sa­ti­on RDTA announced their readi­ness for deployment and on the same day they set off for Atami with five search and res­cue dog teams. After initial coordination with the local rescue or­ga­ni­sa­tions, the search began the next morning. In close co­opera­tion with search and rescue dog teams from other organisations, sev­er­al searches for missing persons were carried out on Sunday. However, the work of the search teams had to be suspended sev­er­al times because of the danger of further landslides.

A temporary decision was made on Sun­day evening to suspend the search with dogs due to the need for intensive mud and rub­ble removal. The RDTA teams re­turned to Yokohama and continued to moni­tor the situation. Only two days later, three search and rescue dog teams were again deployed to search the area for mis­sing victims. After four days of de­ploy­ment, the search opera­tions were of­fi­cial­ly terminated on Wednes­day, 7 July.

Sadly, no survivors could be located by the search and rescue dogs of our Japa­nese member organisation. The chances of sur­viv­al in such incidents are very low. As the pictures clearly show, the mission was very challeng­ing for all involved. The teams did a fantastic job, showed great cooperation with other search and rescue dog teams and provided valuable support to the emer­gen­cy services in locating ca­su­al­ties.

We sincerely thank our RDTA search and rescue dog teams for their tire­less ef­forts and sharing their ex­peri­ences from this mission.

Photos: RDTA