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Death toll from typhoon in Japan hits 26; 52 missing

TOKYO -- Rescuers and search parties scoured central Japan on Monday as the death toll from the worst typhoon to hit the country in seven years climbed to 26, adding more misery to a nation still reeling from its catastrophic tsunami six months ago.

Typhoon Talas, which was later downgraded to a tropical storm, lashed coastal areas with destructive winds and record-setting rains over the weekend before moving offshore into the Sea of Japan. In addition to the 26 dead and 52 missing, thousands were stranded as the typhoon washed out bridges, railways and roads.

The scenes of destruction from the typhoon were another unwelcome reminder of Japan's vulnerability to the forces of nature as the country tries to recover from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

In one of his first acts in office, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda — sworn in just one day before the storm made landfall — vowed the government would provide as much assistance as quickly as it could.

His predecessor, Naoto Kan, was forced out in large part because of public anger over the response to the tsunami, which left nearly 21,000 people dead or missing and touched off the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

“We will do everything we can to rescue people and search for the missing,” Noda said.

The typhoon was believed to be the worst to hit Japan since 2004, when 98 people were killed or reported missing. It caused most of its damage on the Kii Peninsula in central Japan southwest of Tokyo and hundreds of miles (kilometers) from the country's tsunami-ravaged northeastern coast.

The extent of damage from the typhoon was still emerging Monday.

Rescuers and reconnaissance teams spread out over the worst-hit areas to look for survivors or people stranded in flood zones, which though far smaller in scale were reminiscent of the debris-ridden, mud-caked wasteland created by the tsunami.

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 Death toll from typhoon in Japan hits 26; 52 missing 
Rescuers search destroyed houses for missing people after a landslide triggered by Typhoon Talas that brought heavy rains at Tanabe, central Japan, Monday, Sept. 5. The storm dumped record amounts of rain Sunday, Sept. 4, in western and central Japan as it turned towns into lakes, washed away cars and triggered mudslides that obliterated houses. (AP)

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