Decommissioned cruise ship mulled to house west Japan disaster evacuees

Kyodo

The government is considering using a cruise ship as a shelter for people displaced by this month’s rain disaster in western Japan, a source close to the matter said.

The government has asked a company in Chiba Prefecture that owns the 23,235-ton cruise ship Mira 1 to bring it to a port early next month in the devastated city of Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, the source said Saturday. It was one of the areas most heavily damaged by the heavy rain, flooding and landslides during the disaster, which has left over 200 people dead.

The ship, currently docked at a port in Hiroshima Prefecture, is capable of accommodating up to 800 people. It was retired from service in 2013.

On Sunday, the National Police Agency said the death toll from torrential rains earlier this month had been revised to 224 after a death in Hiroshima Prefecture turned out to be unrelated to the disaster.

Of the 224 deaths reported in 15 prefectures, 112 occurred in Hiroshima, 61 in Okayama and 26 in Ehime.

As of 8 p.m. Saturday, about 4,400 people in 13 prefectures remained displaced, including those who took shelter in gymnasiums at local schools after floods and landslides destroyed or damaged more than 38,000 homes across Japan, according to the internal affairs ministry.

Most of the damaged properties were in the three hardest-hit prefectures — Okayama, Hiroshima and Ehime.

Some 17,000 households in those three prefectures had not had water service restored as of 6 a.m. Sunday, figures from the health ministry showed.