Typhoon Talas – 460,000 Japanese told to evacuate

Powerful Typhoon Talas has left a trail of heavy rainfall and mudslides as it moved northward past Japan.

At least six people have died and 20 others are missing, local media said.

Evacuation orders and advisories have been issued to 460,000 people in western and central Japan, Kyodo News agency reported.

NHK TV footage showed a bridge that had been swept away after intense rainfall which caused a river to swell with brown torrents.

The centre of the season’s 12th typhoon was moving north at a speed slower than 20km/h, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. It crossed the southern Japanese island of Shikoku and the central part of the main island of Honshu yesterday.

Because of the storm’s slow speed, the agency warned that heavy rains and strong windswere likely to continue and could lead to flooding and landslides.

Three homes were buried in a landslide in Wakayama prefecture and five people were still missing, although a 14-year-old girl was rescued from the debris, according to NHK.

Seven people were reported missing in nearby Nara prefecture, after homes were swept down a river, NHK said.

Among the dead was a woman who appeared to be in her 30s, whose body was found in a river in Ehime prefecture on Shikoku, police said.

A 73-year-old man in Nara prefecture died after a landslide caused his house to collapse, police said.

Meanwhile, in the United States, bands of heavy rain and strong wind gusts from Tropical Storm Lee knocked out power to thousands in Louisiana and Mississippi yesterday and prompted evacuations in bayou towns such as Jean Lafitte, where water was lapping at front doors of some homes.

The sluggish storm stalled just offshore for several hours before resuming its slow march northward late in the afternoon. Landfall was expected sometime overnight, and the storm threatened to dump more than 30cm of rain across the Gulf Coast and into the Southeast in coming days.

No injuries were reported, but there were scattered instances of water entering low-lying homes and businesses in Louisiana.

To the east, coffers were suffering at many coastal businesses that depend on a strong end-of-summer weekend. Alabama beaches that would normally be packed were largely empty, and rough seas closed the port of Mobile. Mississippi’s coastal casinos, however, were reporting brisk business.

The centre of the storm was about 90km south-southwest of Lafayette, Louisiana. Warnings stretched from the Louisiana-Texas state line to Destin, Florida.

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