Search continues for more than 20 missing in Atami mudslide

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Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. sludge / slʌdʒ  / (n.) – a thick, soft mixture such as mud or waste from a factory

    Look at all the sludge in the river! They really need to clean it up.

  2. unaccounted for / ˌʌn əˈkaʊn tɪdˌfɔr / (adj.) – missing and in an unknown condition

    Several people are still unaccounted for. I hope we find them soon.

  3. evacuate / ɪˈvæk yuˌeɪt / (v.) – to leave a place because of danger

    The mayor asked people to evacuate before the typhoon hit.

  4. steep / stip / (adj.) – rising or falling very sharply

    The hill is too steep; I don’t think you can go up it on your bicycle.

  5. trial / ˈtraɪ əl / (n.) – a test of one’s stamina or faith

    The runners in the desert marathon will have to deal with a number of trials including extreme temperatures and lack of water.


Read the text below.

Rescue workers dug through sludge and debris July 5 looking for more than 20 people who may be trapped after a torrent of mud, trees and rocks ripped with a roar through Atami, a seaside resort town in Shizuoka Prefecture, killing at least four people.

Atami Mayor Sakae Saito said 24 people were still unreachable early July 6. A majority of people on a list of 60 registered residents who were unaccounted for have contacted officials to let them know they are safe. Officials were double-checking the number because many of the apartments and houses in Atami are second homes or vacation rentals.

Initially, 147 people were unreachable, but officials confirmed many safely evacuated or were not at home. In addition to the four people found dead, officials said 25 people have been rescued.

The landslide occurred July 3 after days of heavy rain in Atami, which like many seaside towns is built into a steep hillside. It tore through the Izusan neighborhood, known for its hot springs, a shrine and shopping streets.

The disaster is an added trial as authorities prepare for the Tokyo Games, due to start in less than three weeks, while Japan is still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, with cases steadily climbing in the capital. (AP)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Many people took a video of the mudslide and posted it to social media. What do you think about that (ex. it was a good way to show the power of nature, it was a bit insensitive)? Why? Discuss.
  • Officials confirmed that many people had safely evacuated before the mudslide. Why do you think some people don’t evacuate (ex. they’re unaware of the evacuation order, they don’t think the situation is really dangerous)? What can officials do to encourage more people to evacuate from their homes in future dangerous situations? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Atami, like many seaside towns, is built into a steep hillside. Do you think it’s possible to prevent natural disasters in such areas, or should people accept that they will sometimes happen? Why? Discuss.
  • The mudslide tore through the Izusan neighborhood, known for its hot springs, a shrine, and shopping streets. Do you think tourists should visit it this summer to show their support, or is it better to avoid going there for a while? Why? Discuss.