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Death toll from Japan earthquake rises as rescuers dig through landslides

Search operations continued after Thursday's powerful earthquake on Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido unleashed scores of landslides, burying homes in avalanches of soil, rock and timber.

Japan earthquake toll rises as rescuers dig through landslides

Search operations continued after Thursday's powerful earthquake on Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido unleashed scores of landslides, burying homes in avalanches of soil, rock and timber. (Tsuyoshi Ueda/Kyodo News via AP)

Japan earthquake toll rises as rescuers dig through landslides

Searchers used dogs, backhoes and shovels to dig through mud and debris Friday looking for survivors beneath the landslides caused by a powerful earthquake in northern Japan that left at least 16 people dead or presumed dead. (Yusuke Ogata/Kyodo News via AP)

Japan earthquake toll rises as rescuers dig through landslides

In Atsuma, a town of 4,600 people, 26 were still unaccounted for. The landslides ripped through some homes and buried others. (Masanori Takei/Kyodo News via AP)

Japan earthquake toll rises as rescuers dig through landslides

Hokkaido is Japan's northern frontier and a major farming region with rugged mountain ranges and vast forests, and its people are accustomed to coping with long winters, isolation and other hardships. (Source: Japan Self-Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS)

Japan earthquake toll rises as rescuers dig through landslides

The last few months have brought a string of calamities in Japan. The quake came on the heels of a typhoon that lifted heavy trucks off their wheels and triggered major flooding in western Japan, and damaged the main airport near Osaka and Kobe. (Tsuyoshi Ueda/Kyodo News via AP)

Japan earthquake toll rises as rescuers dig through landslides

The summer also brought devastating floods and landslides from torrential rains in Hiroshima and deadly hot temperatures across the country. (Yusuke Ogata/Kyodo News via AP)

Japan earthquake toll rises as rescuers dig through landslides

The Japan Football Association also canceled an exhibition game against Chile because of the powerful earthquake that struck the island of Hokkaido. (Masanori Takei/Kyodo News via AP)

Japan earthquake toll rises as rescuers dig through landslides

The quake's impact was widespread. To the north, in the scenic town of Biei, residents lined up outside of supermarkets and convenience stores, quickly clearing shelves of water, toilet paper and food. (Hiroki Yamauchi/Kyodo News via AP)