Skip to main content

Death toll rises to 49 after storm hits Japan

From Junko Ogura and Yoko Wakatsuki, CNN
  • NEW: The death toll has risen to 49; 58 are missing
  • The storm caused at least 34 deaths in Wakayama prefecture
  • Record rainfall triggers landslides and flooding
  • Talas moved through western Japan on Saturday

Tokyo (CNN) -- The death toll from the storm known as Talas has risen to 49 in Japan, emergency officials said Wednesday.

Another 58 people are missing after the storm hit western Japan, unleashing record rainfall and triggering landslides and flooding, according to a tally of casualties compiled from 12 prefectural police agencies.

The Japan Meteorological Agency briefly classified the storm as a typhoon before it made landfall. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center recorded the storm making landfall in Japan as a tropical storm.

The storm caused at least 34 deaths in hard-hit Wakayama, south of Tokyo, officials said. Another 34 people were missing there.

"I have been working for the prefectural office over 40 years, but this is the worst in my memory," said Tsutomu Furukawa of Wakayama prefecture. Wakayama is one of three prefectures on the mountainous Kii Peninsula, where damage from Talas was concentrated as the storm swept across the area on Saturday.

In the town of Nachi Katsuura in Wakayama, a river flooded into a residential area, and mudslides swallowed several homes, officials said.

More than 16,000 residents were ordered to evacuate from the Kii Peninsula area, and roughly 30,000 other residents were encouraged to evacuate voluntarily.

According to Japan's meteorological agency, Talas brought record rain in the three prefectures over three days. The Japanese government set up a emergency task force for search-and-rescue operations and to begin reconstruction of damaged communities.

CNN's Ivan Cabrera contributed to this report.