TOKYO (AP) – A powerful typhoon blasted across Japan on Wednesday, killing at least 31 people, causing deadly mudslides and flash floods and prompting thousands to flee their homes, officials said. Nearly 40 people were missing.

Typhoon Tokage made landfall on Japan’s main islands early Wednesday and was downgraded to a tropical storm by the evening, but its winds and torrential rains were the deadliest in more than a decade.

Early Thursday, the storm had swiped Japan’s eastern coastline then headed east to open seas, its fury spent.

Rescue workers and Japanese troops mounted a search for at least 39 people still missing, digging through mud and debris and combing flooded rivers, Japanese media reported. Public broadcaster NHK said the combined deaths and missing were the highest in 16 years.

“The death toll is likely to keep rising, as we take stock of the damage,” National Police Agency spokesman Kojun Chibana said.

AP-ES-10-20-04 2045EDT

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