TOKYO -- A typhoon that pummeled western Japan left at least 20 people dead and more than 50 missing Sunday, after swollen rivers swept away buildings and landslides crushed houses.

One of the victims drowned after flood waters gushed into his car and streets were submerged in scenes that rekindled memories of the March 11 tsunami disaster. Thousands of people were left stranded.

Typhoon Talas, which made landfall Saturday and was one of the deadliest in recent years, packed gusts of up to 68mph (108kph) as it cut across the main island of Shikoku and the western part of Honshu island.

The government set up an emergency task force as the number of victims looked set to grow and landslides and damaged roads hampered relief efforts.

In the Wakayama Prefecture, 12 people were killed and 29 were missing, local government officials said. One man was killed after a landslide hit his house, they added.

At Totsukawa village, in the Nara Prefecture, a gushing river washed away housing complexes, leaving at least two people dead and seven missing, the local government said.

In the Kansai region and elsewhere up to 30,000 people were evacuated, according to the fire and disaster management agency.

Television footage showed massive landslides crushing wooden houses in mountainous communities, with muddy water submerging streets and washing away wooden debris and cars.

A tally by the Kyodo news agency showed at least 20 people had been killed, more than 50 were missing and 3,600 were left stranded by landslides and collapsed bridges.

The powerful storm slowly moved north and was in the Sea of Japan, the Tokyo-based Japan Meteorological Agency said.