Police search for missing people buried under mud at the scene of a landslide following days of heavy rain in Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture on July 5, 2021. Image Credit: AFP

Tokyo: More than a thousand Japanese rescuers combed through crumbled houses and buried roads on Monday two days after landslides tore through a seaside city, fighting time and poor weather to search for some 80 people believed missing.

At least three people have been killed in Atami after torrential rain at the weekend - more than a usual July's worth in 24 hours some areas - touched off a succession of landslides, sending torrents of mud and rock ripping through streets.

The landslides are a reminder of the natural disasters - including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunami - that haunt Japan.

"My mother is still missing," one man told NHK public television. "I never imagined something like this could happen here."

By Monday, the number of rescuers at the site had risen to 1,500, officials said, and could increase.

"We want to rescue as many victims ... buried in the rubble as soon as possible," Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters, adding that police, firefighters and members of the military were doing all they could to aid the search.