KURIHARA, Japan Soldiers pulled the body of a 58-year-old man Monday from a hot spring inn knocked down by a landslide in northern Japan, bringing the death toll in a weekend earthquake to 10.
Authorities said 12 people were still missing from Saturday's 7.2-magnitude quake, which tore across the rural area, triggering a series of deadly landslides that barreled into homes and swept away roads.
Hope of finding more survivors dimmed Monday. Dozens of soldiers and other rescue workers surrounded the remains of the resort inn, which had been inundated with a deluge of mud, rocks and trees.
The man discovered on Monday was the fourth body salvaged from the inn. Three more victims presumably dead were believed buried in the wreckage.
"We are doing our best to find the three, but it has been difficult to carry out operations with all the mud in the area," said police spokesman Naoshi Tokunaga.
The more than 1,000 rescue workers and disaster officials have joined the search, their efforts aided by a spell of dry weather. The work, however, has been hindered by heavy road damage caused by landslides.
Several major points of access to the hardest-hit spots were virtually unreachable by ground, with tons of debris covering them. Soldiers using backhoes were trying to dig their way to the hot spring area, but had to start 5 miles away.
Nine other people were missing in the quake-hit area. Another 100 living in a hamlet nearby the resort remained stranded, some without water, and had to be slowly airlifted out by police and military helicopters.
The two-story hot spring resort was inundated when the hill behind it came crashing down.
A series of powerful aftershocks also hampered search efforts on Sunday. More than 470 aftershocks were recorded since the quake hit and officials warned more landslides were possible.
The quake was centered in the northern prefecture (state) of Iwate, and was located about 5 miles underground. It was felt as far away as Tokyo, 250 miles to the southwest.
The most recent major quake in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active countries, killed more than 6,400 people in the city of Kobe in January 1995.