Typhoon toll reaches 34 dead, 56 missing

Japan Times

Total devastation: Floodwater still covers part of the town of Nachikatsuura in Wakayama Prefecture Monday morning even though Typhoon Talas has come and gone. KYODO PHOTOS

Talas, the region’s 12th typhoon of the year, has left 34 people dead and 56 missing, making it the deadliest storm to hit Japan in about seven years, a Kyodo News tally indicates.

Police, firefighters and the Self-Defense Forces resumed their search for the missing Monday in Nara and Wakayama prefectures, finding the body of Danzo Mori, 82, who was reported missing in the Nara village of Totsukawa.

The toll from Talas, which was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday afternoon, could grow because flooded rivers, damaged roads and mudslides are hampering relief work over a wide area, including the Kii Peninsula, rescuers said.

The typhoon damage is the worst since Tokage left 98 people dead or missing in October 2004.

In Mie, Nara and Wakayama prefectures, power and telephone lines remained down, with roughly 194,000 households experiencing blackouts as of 3 p.m.

About 36,000 telephones were inoperative in the prefectures as of 4:30 p.m., NTT West Corp. said, adding that it didn’t know when service would be restored.

Wakayama authorities said that 4,702 residents from the municipalities of Nachikatsuura, Tanabe, Shingu and Hidakagawa were cut off by landslides or floods and that SDF helicopters are attempting to rescue them.

“We will do everything we can to rescue people and search for the missing,” said Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who took office a day before the typhoon hit.

On Monday morning, the typhoon took a northeasterly turn along the Sea of Japan, dumping heavy rain in the Tokai region.

The Meteorological Agency warned that landslides were still a threat in the Kinki region and in eastern areas as well, warning of heavy rain through Tuesday in the Hokkaido, Tohoku and Hokuriku regions.

In Kiho, Mie Prefecture, where the Onodani River overflowed, the SDF rescued 14 people who were stranded.

In Nachikatsuura, Wakayama Prefecture, rescuers found the body of Saki Teramoto, 24, the daughter of Mayor Shinichi Teramoto. His wife, Masako, 51, is still missing.

Saki Teramoto was due to be engaged Sunday but disappeared while checking on the Nachi River near their home.

Police and Self-Defense Forces personnel continue searching for missing residents in Tanabe, in the same prefecture.

The town took damage to key transport and cultural assets as well, including the JR Kisei Line bridge, which spans the Nachi River, and the Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine.

Much of the 39-meter bridge was washed away by floods, local authorities said, although no trains were operating at the time.

The shrine, a World Heritage-designated Sacred Site and Pilgrimage Route in the Kii Mountain Range, was hit by mudslides.

Nachikatsuura had confirmed at least eight deaths Monday.

In Nara Prefecture, meanwhile, officials at Hase Temple, a designated national cultural asset, said part of the roof was shattered when part of a tree fell down after being damaged by heavy rain and wind.

While the elements swept over wide swaths of Honshu, no significant damage was reported in Tohoku, which is still recovering from the earthquake and tsunami in March that left nearly 21,000 dead or unaccounted for in the shattered northeast.

As the typhoon approached Japan, evacuation orders or advisories were issued to 460,000 people. Nevertheless, at least 3,600 people have been stranded.

Talas is a word from the Philippines meaning “sharpness.”