Tropical Storm Talas developed on August 25 and slowly meandered north towards Japan late last week. Reports said evacuation orders and advisories were issued to 460,000 people in western and central Japan ahead of the storm’s arrival. According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), Talas made landfall as a tropical storm in the prefecture of Kochi on Shikoku Island on September 2 with sustained winds of around 55 mph (90 kmph), equivalent to a tropical storm. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) briefly classified the storm as a typhoon before it made landfall. Following landfall in Kochi, Talas moved into central Honshu before entering the Sea of Japan via Okayama and Tottori Prefectures and dissipating.
Reports said Talas battered a wide swath of southern Japan with strong winds and heavy rainfall. More than 100,000 households lost power and all forms of transportation were disrupted, with hundreds of flights cancelled and several train services suspended. Much of the damage in the region was caused by flooding and landslides, according to officials. Reports said the torrential rain brought by the slow moving storm caused rivers to swell and triggered floods and landslides that swept away homes, roads and bridges. At least 26 people have been killed in six prefectures and more than 50 people remain missing. Reports said Talas is the deadliest storm to hit Japan since 2004.
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Thousands of people were stranded after Talas collapsed houses and triggered dangerous landslides. According to JMA, Talas dumped record amounts of rain in some areas as raging floodwaters inundated entire villages and swept up homes, cars and railway bridges. Reports said the storm’s slow forward motion of around 6 mph (10 kmph) meant parts of Shikoku and Honshu received up to 4.3 feet (1.3 meters) of rainfall in total. According to reports, the prefectures of Wakayama and Nara in southern Honshu were badly hit by Talas, with entire villages flooded and bridges destroyed. Officials said around 1,300 people were staying at evacuation centers in both prefectures while widespread property damage has been reported. Several landslides stranded at least 3,600 people in four Wakayama municipalities, according to reports.
More than 20 fatalities have been reported in Wakayama alone. In the town of Nachi Katsuura in Wakayama, a river flooded into a residential area, and mudslides destroyed several homes, officials said. In Nara Prefecture, three people were killed as a local river overflowed and washed away ten homes in two locations. In Totsukawa, seven people went missing and one person died after two homes were washed away. Mudslides were reported in Saijo, Ehime Prefecture, cutting off 250 people. The Kyoto region also sustained some damage as the Nijojo Castle, one of Kyoto’s cultural treasures, was damaged in the storm after a large piece of plaster was torn from the gate wall. Reports indicate the impact on businesses has been less severe, with no immediate reports of major disruption to factory operations in the affected region. Meanwhile, officials at Tokyo Electric Power Company said its tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, located in eastern Japan, was not affected by the storm.
Sources: Joint Typhoon Warning Center, WSI, Agence France Presse, Reuters News, CNN News, Kyodo News
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