2016 May 15 / Kumamoto in one month after quake: over 10,000 in shelters

A truck seen near a shelter in Mashiki machi town has a sign of a rescue work vehicle sent from the Pipelining Work Company Association in Miyasaki prefecture. (April 30, 2016, Cultural News Photo)

A truck seen near a shelter in Mashiki machi town has a sign of a rescue work vehicle sent from the Pipelining Work Company Association in Miyasaki prefecture. (April 30, 2016, Cultural News Photo)

Two major earthquakes in Kumamoto, center of Kuryu region, on April 14 and 16 forced over 180,000 people for seeking shelters and left a total of 49 people dead.

As of May 15, roughly 87,000 buildings had been recorded as damaged and or destroy, with some 10,000 people having yet to return home. In Kumamoto prefecture, over 14,000 buildings were declared as unsafe to enter, and numerous people stay over nights at their own cars due to fears of the aftershock which has been recorded more than 1,400 times for one month.

More people died after the second quake on April 16 with a magnitude-7.3 than the first quake on April 14 with a magnitude-6.5 because many people returned home from shelters on April 15. The National Meteorological Agency had initially downplayed the chances of another major quake striking the same area within three days of April 15. It said the odds of this occurring were just 20 percent.

Construction of more than 1,000 temporary dwellings has already began, with the Government of Kumamoto Prefecture securing a budget for 2,100 units and local municipalities separately earmarking funds for an additional 800 units.

After the Eastern Japan Great Earthquake in 2011, the national government and local municipalities set up emergency plans to send staff and equipment to damaged municipalities in case of disaster.

The National Police Agency coordinated to send 1100 policemen from 18 prefectural police agencies on April 15 and other 1300 policemen on April 16. At the end of April, 500 policemen were dispatched from 30 prefectural police agencies as a supplement force to the 2,200 personnel of the Kumamoto Prefectural Police Agency.

The City of Kumamoto has participated in the 20-member Major Municipalities Association of Japan which prepared emergency plans to help member cities. On April 15, this emergency plan was activated.  Cities of Hiroshima, Okayama, Kitakyushu and Fukuoka sent their stuff to Kumamoto to set up the field headquarters. Eventually 19-member cities have sent over 200 stuffs every day for over one month to assist administration of evacuation centers, building safety checks, and issuing disaster documents.

With the coordination of industrial associations such as electricity, gas, and departments of water, repair stuff of life lines were dispatched from all over Japan. By these relief efforts, the electricity shortage was resolved completely by the end of April, and gas supply has been recovered to nearly 80% by the same time. As of April 28 in Kumamoto prefecture, the operating rates of local business were 99% for convenience stores, 88% for supermarkets, and 92% for gas stations.

Despite near 100 departments of water has sent personnel to the disaster areas, numerous houses are not supplied with water yet.

(Source: Kyodo News, The Japan Times, and other Japanese daily papers)

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