Typhoon Talas dumped record amounts of rain in western and central Japan on Sunday, killing at least 25 people and stranding thousands as it turned towns into lakes, washed away cars and set off mudslides that buried or destroyed houses. At least 50 people were missing, the Japanese news media reported.
Evacuation orders and advisories were issued to 460,000 people in the region, which is hundreds of miles from the country’s tsunami-ravaged northeastern coast.
At least 3,600 people were stranded by flooded rivers, landslides and collapsed bridges, which were hampering rescue efforts, the Kyodo News agency reported.
The public broadcaster NHK showed a bridge that was swept away after intense rain caused a river to swell into a brown torrent. People holding umbrellas waded through knee-deep water in city streets and residential areas.
The typhoon dumped record amounts of rain in some areas, and more was expected. It was the country’s worst storm since one in 2004 that left 98 people either dead or missing, the Yomiuri newspaper said. By Sunday, Talas had been downgraded to a tropical storm.
Ten people were killed and 32 were missing in Wakayama Prefecture alone, the police said. One landslide there buried three homes; a woman was killed and four people were missing, but a 14-year-old girl was rescued from the debris.
In nearby Nara Prefecture, seven people were reported missing after their homes were swept down a river, NHK said. A 73-year-old man died in Nara when his house collapsed in a landslide, the police said.
The storm damaged Nijojo Castle in the ancient city of Kyoto, tearing a large piece of plaster from the gate wall. The castle, a popular tourist destination, is considered a cultural treasure.
The center of Talas, the season’s 12th typhoon, crossed the southern island of Shikoku and the central part of the main island of Honshu overnight on Saturday. It was moving slowly north across the Sea of Japan off the country’s western coast, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
Because of the storm’s slow speed, the agency warned that heavy rains and strong winds were likely to continue. With the ground already soaked, fears of additional mudslides were growing, and the agency issued landslide warnings in nearly all of the country’s prefectures.