Over 14,000 people remain evacuated in Japan after Jan 1 quake

Over 14,000 people remain evacuated in Japan after Jan 1 quake
Photo credit: TASS

More than 14,000 people remained evacuated Thursday, one month after a magnitude-7.6 earthquake hit the Noto Peninsula in central Japan, as local governments rush to prepare temporary housing while logistics continued to be disrupted,  Kyodo reported.

The victims of the quake that killed 238 people are struggling to rebuild their lives as they face difficulty securing fresh food due to supply chain disruptions affecting operations at grocery and convenience stores with roads remaining cut off.

The New Year's Day temblor in Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast caused large-scale fires and destruction in its wake, also leaving 19 people unaccounted for.

"It's been one month, but nothing has changed, not even the roads," said Fumio Ishibe, who evacuated to a community center after his home was damaged in Wajima, one of the hardest hit cities in the prefecture.

The 75-year-old said he was unable to sleep from the stress and that his body ached from sleeping on a thin mattress day after day.

"Those who evacuated are becoming quieter. We are all reaching our limits," he said.

With nearly 10,000 people continuing to take shelter in temporary evacuation centers such as gymnastics halls, Ishikawa Prefecture has secured use of 8,000 existing temporary housing units for evacuees, including in nearby prefectures.

In addition, 18 temporary housing units were built in Wajima, with 58 people from 18 households set to move in on Saturday, while 40 units are expected to be completed in Suzu next Tuesday.

Volunteer work has also been expanding in the area, with Suzu, which previously had not sought help from volunteers, asking those who have registered in advance to assist in removing debris from Saturday.

A total of around 150 people per day are expected to volunteer in Suzu and other areas.

Meanwhile, disruptions in logistics are hindering the region's return to normalcy, as local shops face a shortage of items to sell. Many have also suffered damage to their premises and have employees personally affected by the disaster.

"We would like to eat more vegetables and fish for a balanced diet, but it's difficult to get hold of them," said Miki Okagaki, 44, who lives in Wajima with her family.

Although she is concerned about the health of her family, most dishes consist of packaged foods as she is unable to secure fresh produce, she said.

FamilyMart Co., the sole major convenience store chain that operates in the northern region of the peninsula, has yet to reopen 13 of its stores located Suzu and nearby areas, while two in Wajima operate just a few hours a day.

"We are facing constraints in our ability to provide a stable supply of goods and personnel due to (poor) road and weather conditions," a company official said, noting the return to regular operational hours was likely to take time.

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