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Tropical Storm Talas leaves 38 dead, 54 missing in Japan

From Junko Ogura and Yoko Wakatsuki, CNN
  • Record rainfall triggers landslides and flooding
  • "This is the worst in my memory," an official says
  • Talas moved through western Japan on Saturday

Tokyo (CNN) -- The death toll from Talas, which swept across western Japan, has risen to 38, local authorities said Tuesday morning.

Another 54 people are missing, according to a tally of casualties compiled from various prefectural police.

The storm unleashed record rainfall that triggered landslides and flooding.

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

"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.

It was Wakayama that suffered most in this typhoon, with 25 deaths and 34 missing.

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.