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Devastation in Japanese town after landslide sweeps away homes

Two bodies were found after a huge landslide at a resort town in central Japan swept away homes on Saturday following days of heavy rain, with around 20 people still missing, officials said.

Television footage showed a torrent of mud obliterating buildings as it crashed down a hillside in Atami, southwest of Tokyo, sending people fleeing as it buried part of a road.

"I heard a horrible sound and saw a mudslide flowing downwards as rescue workers were urging people to evacuate. So I ran to higher ground," the head of a temple near the disaster told public broadcaster NHK.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said emergency services and the military had launched rescue and evacuation missions, warning that more downpours were forecast.

Atami saw rainfall of 313 millimetres in just 48 hours to Saturday -- higher than the average monthly total for July of 242.5 millimetres, according to NHK.

He said "around 20" people were still missing after being swept away by the landslide.