Hiroshima schools used as evacuation centers resume classes after mudslides

Kyodo

Six schools that were used as evacuation centers after deadly mudslides displaced families in Hiroshima resumed classes Monday after the summer holidays.

At a junior high school in Asaminami Ward, students gathered in the gym to offer prayers after being told that one of their own, 15-year-old Shizu Furui, died in the disaster last month.

“Since the students are at a susceptible age, they are likely to be shocked by the death of someone close,” principal Noriaki Matsushima said after the morning assembly. “We will work to provide them with psychological support.”

The death toll from the rain-triggered mudslides is now at 72, with two people unaccounted for. About 940 people are still living in shelters.

At Yagi Elementary School in Asaminami Ward, which has 370 pupils, there are still about 50 people taking shelter. After two routes to the school were blocked by the mudslides, the school created alternative access points.

A 33-year-old mother said she was relieved to see her 10-year-old daughter eager to go back to school despite the shock delivered by the mudslides on Aug. 20.

Also on Monday, West Japan Railway Co. resumed full service on the Kabe Line after runs between Midorii and Kabe stations were suspended by flooding.

“I’m glad the railway service was restored as it was taking me longer to go to school,” high school student Takumi Kaneoki, 17, said.

The Hiroshima Municipal Government overlooked a weather forecast issued more than an hour before the slides that said 70 mm of rain could fall in an hour, city officials said.

The city received the forecast by fax from the Hiroshima Local Meteorological Office, but it was left unattended after being mixed up with other faxes, the officials said.

This may have delayed the issuing of evacuation advisories.

“We could not check the rainfall forecast, as we were struggling to deal with a massive amount of information, such as confirming the water height in rivers,” said an official in charge of the disaster countermeasures office.