STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Japan Opens Prison to Care for Quake Evacuees

Many people are avoiding the congested shelters set up in local schools, choosing instead to stay in their cars.

Published: 19th April 2016 02:05 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th April 2016 02:05 PM   |  A+A-

Japan Quake_AP

An elderly resident rests on stairs as he stays in shelter in the earthquake-hit Mashiki, Kumamoto prefecture. |AP

By AFP

MASHIKI: Japan has resorted to opening a prison to those left homeless by two deadly earthquakes, officials said Tuesday, highlighting the challenges faced in dealing with tens of thousands who have fled their homes.

Two major earthquakes and about 600 smaller tremors have rocked the southwestern island of Kyushu since late Thursday, leaving a total of 44 people dead and more than 1,000 injured -- 208 of them seriously -- in Japan's worst humanitarian disaster in five years.

Many who abandoned their damaged or destroyed homes have had to sleep in temporary accommodation, huddle in makeshift shelters or even sleep in their cars, and local media have reported problems in delivering food and other essentials as well as raising health concerns.

Nearly 117,000 people were in evacuation shelters, Takayuki Matsushita, a spokesman for the Kumamoto prefectural government, told AFP, but he added that the figure does not include those staying with friends or family or in places other than official shelters.

Justice Ministry official Koichi Shima told AFP that a prison in the hard-hit city of Kumamoto has accommodated as many as 250 people at a time in the correctional facility's martial arts training hall.

About 110 people were staying there on Tuesday alongside nearly 500 inmates, he added.

The ministry decided to start using prison facilities as evacuation centres after a huge undersea quake in March 2011 killed around 18,500 people when it sent a devastating tsunami barrelling into the northeast coast and sparking a nuclear meltdown disaster.

"This is the first time that the policy has been put into practice," Shima said.

An initial quake on Thursday, measured at 6.2 magnitude by US geologists, affected older buildings and killed nine people. But Saturday's more powerful 7.0-magnitude tremor and an ensuing landslide brought even newer structures crashing down.

More than 600 quakes and aftershocks have been recorded in the area since Thursday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Officials said that the death toll from the quakes rose to 44 as two more bodies were recovered, while at least eight people were still listed as missing.

Many people are avoiding the congested shelters set up in local schools and town hall buildings, choosing instead to stay in their cars.

That has fanned worries about deep-vein thrombosis -- also known as economy-class syndrome -- when prolonged immobility can lead to blood clots forming in the legs and travelling to the heart, lungs or brain with potentially fatal consequences.

Jiji Press reported that a 51-year-old woman in Kumamoto had died from the condition, though it could not be immediately confirmed. Other reports said five people had been diagnosed with clots.

Separately, commercial airlines resumed flights to Kumamoto's airport early Tuesday but the planes were departing with no passengers as quake damage to the terminal building meant security checks could not be conducted.

Japan is one of the world's most seismically active countries, sitting on the so-called "Ring of Fire" around the Pacific tectonic plate.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

edexworks
flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp