Work gets under way to restore island’s water supplies, repair roads, check safety of schools Residents of Miyake Island got back into the routine of daily life Friday after the threat of a volcanic eruption receded and local authorities lifted evacuation orders the previous day.
Despite continuing tremors, workers on the small volcanic island 180 km south of Tokyo set out to restore water supplies and repair damaged roads. Air Nippon commuter services between Tokyo’s Haneda airport and Miyake Island resumed Friday.
A ship carrying evacuated residents and a group of elementary-school students arrived at the island early in the day. The children had left the island on a field trip and were forced to remain in Tokyo while the evacuation order was in place.
Tokyo authorities dissolved an antidisaster task force late Thursday, leaving the village of Miyake and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s branch administrative office on the island to separately begin measures for repairing damaged infrastructures such as roads.
Village officials plan to set up water distribution points at three sites while they repair water pipes. All 770 households in the Ako and Igaya districts in the western part of the island, which had been affected by the evacuation order, had their water supplies cut due to earthquake-related damage.
“I had hoped that tap water would run normally since the authorities let us go home,” said a 68-year-old resident of Ako. “Yesterday, I was looking forward to taking a bath, but I couldn’t.”
An owner of a pachinko parlor in the area decided to close business for the day as the toilet could not be flushed, and there was no likelihood the place would be able to reopen in the near future.
Local officials said they have begun safety checks of the seven schools on the island. The checks will be conducted with the help of seven staff members of the metropolitan government’s Office of Education.
Schools will be closed until today, they said, adding that classes will resume Monday.
Meanwhile, metropolitan authorities canceled the transportation by helicopter of four elderly people to a medical facility in Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward after their conditions stabilized.
The four are residents of a nursing home on the island. Their conditions had deteriorated after they were forced to take shelter in public evacuation centers.
About 50 residents of the nursing home returned to the facility in the morning after the evacuation order was lifted.
“I was really relieved because they are all of advanced age and were at the limit of their physical strength,” said a 41-year-old official of the facility. “I am so glad that nobody was taken seriously ill.”
The scheduled July 8 mayoral election has been officially moved back to July 17, according to local election authorities. They said they postponed the vote to “give time to the people, especially those who had been evacuated, to settle down.”
Volcanic earthquakes have abated, but tectonic quakes measuring between 1 and 3 on the Japanese intensity scale of 7 are continuing.
Also on Friday, the Meteorological Agency said it cannot “declare yet if seismic activities have subsided, despite the decrease in powerful earthquakes since dawn.”
Agency officials said they are appealing to islanders to take precautions in the immediate future.
Meanwhile, the possibility of a strong quake around Kozu Island, which was rocked by an earthquake Thursday registering a lower 5 on the Japanese intensity scale, is reportedly becoming weaker. Kozu lies northwest of Miyake and both part of the Izu chain of islands south of Tokyo.