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Japan Airlifts Supplies to Typhoon-Stranded Residents

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers run a rescue operation in Kiho town, Mie Prefecture, September 5, 2011.

Military crews are airlifting relief supplies to thousands of people in western Japan who have been cut off from the world since a powerful typhoon struck the region last week.

Rains accompanying Typhoon Talas caused rivers to swell and triggered floods and landslides. The storm swept away roads and downed telephone and power lines, leaving more than 4,000 people isolated.

The storm killed at least 37 people and left 54 others missing. Among the victims are the wife and daughter of the mayor in the town of Nachikatsuura, who were swept away when they went to inspect a flooded river near their home.

"I have to think about how to help the people of the town deal with this disaster," said Nachikatsuura Mayor Shinichi Teramoto. "Only after that can I think about my family. I hope that I can find my wife soon to send off my family with my daughter.''

The storm is the worst to hit Japan since Typhoon Tokage left 98 people dead or missing in 2004. The country is still struggling to recover from the earthquake and tsunami that left more than 20,000 people dead or missing in March.