Overnight landslide leaves 6 missing in southern Japan

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Overnight landslide leaves 6 missing in southern Japan
A landslide site is seen Wednesday April 11, 2018 in Nakatsu, Oita Prefecture, in southern Japan. Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency says the landslide occurred around 3:50 a.m. Wednesday in Oita prefecture on Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's four main islands. The agency said it left six missing and damaged four homes. (Takuto Kaneko/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — Rescuers were searching Wednesday for six people after an overnight landslide buried a small cluster of houses at the foot of a steep slope in southern Japan.

The landslide, which occurred around 3:50 a.m., left six people missing and damaged four homes in Oita prefecture on Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

Aerial photographs from Japanese news media showed a denuded swath on a thickly forested mountainside. At the bottom, a huge mound of earth and tree trunks buried houses, blocked the road in front of them and spilled over into fields on the other side. Blue-suited rescue workers could be seen on top of the rubble.

The cause of the landslide wasn’t immediately clear. It occurred in a mountainous inland area in Oita, which is well-known for its hot springs resorts.