Most of the damage occurred on the Kii Peninsula in central Japan southwest of Tokyo and hundreds of miles from the country’s tsunami-ravaged northeastern coast. Television footage showed massive landslides crushing wooden houses in mountainous communities, with muddy water submerging streets and washing away wooden debris and cars. Close to half a million people had been evacuated from the region over the weekend.
The government’s management of the typhoon is one of the first tests for the new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who was sworn in only one day before the storm made landfall. In one of his first acts in office, Mr Noda vowed that the government would provide assistance as speedily and efficiently as possible as rescue efforts continue across the regions.
Typhoon Talas, which takes its name from a Philippine word that means “sharpness,” is believed to be the worst to hit Japan since 2004, when 98 people were killed or reported missing.