Inappropriate land-raising work may have been behind Saturday’s fatal mudslide in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, a prefectural government official said Wednesday.

The mudslide, which killed at least seven people and damaged about 130 buildings, has been found to have started around a site where the ground level was raised with soil.

Takashi Nanba, vice governor of the central Japan prefecture, said that he believes “the construction method was inappropriate,” adding that the drainage and other facilities there may have been inadequate.

Nanba also said that corrective measures had been taken because illegal activity was found there.

The site of the collapse had been a pathway for water, but soil had been added there for land raising in 2010 or earlier. At least 54,000 square meters of soil is believed to have been used in the work.

According to Nanba, an investigation using past images of the site has shown that it may have lacked essential facilities such as drains and check dams for erosion control. The soil also contained waste such as shards of plastic.

Near the site, there were projects that changed the quality of the land, including those involving the disposal of industrial waste and sand.

He also said that the prefecture and the city of Atami had taken corrective measures against a company found to have underreported the area of forests it would cut down in the vicinity.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 26 people were safely rescued. Twenty-seven people remain unaccounted for, and authorities have released their names, calling for information on their whereabouts.

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