Japan toll rises to 35 after powerful quake

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(Tokyo) – The death toll from a powerful quake that triggered landslides in northern Japan rose to 35, as tens of thousands of rescue workers raked through the mud for survivors.

The majority of the dead are from the small rural town of Atsuma, where a cluster of dwellings were wrecked when a hillside collapsed from the force of the 6.6-magnitude quake, causing deep brown scars in the landscape.

Public broadcaster NHK said 35 were dead, with around five people still unaccounted for in the town.

More than 600 sustained minor injuries, according to the Hokkaido island local government.

“We never had landslides here,” said Akira Matsushita who lost his brother in Atsuma.

“I couldn´t believe until I saw it with my own eyes,” he told TV Asahi. “When I saw it, I knew no-one could survive.”

Some 40,000 rescue workers, including Self-Defense Forces drafted in specially, were searching for survivors with the aid of bulldozers, sniffer dogs and 75 helicopters, according to the top government spokesman.

“They´re doing their best around the clock,” Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will meet quake survivors in Hokkaido