• Kyodo

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The head of the Ground Self-Defense Force humanitarian relief mission in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah visited two suburban elementary schools Monday to take requests for repairs.

Classrooms with peeling paint, damaged roofs and so on “can be repaired within our capacity,” Col. Masahisa Sato said after viewing the schools.

At the first school, Sato checked the building and playground from the roof and inspected classrooms for nearly two hours.

About 30 students who had just finished their morning classes were excited to see the unexpected visitors.

“Our school lacks drinking water, stationery and other things, and we can’t use restrooms as we please,” a 12-year-old boy in the sixth grade said. “We would be very happy if the Japanese fixed these things.”

Japan plans to deploy about 550 troops in Samawah for humanitarian and reconstruction operations. Half that number are currently on the ground.

Elsewhere, one of the 20 vehicles Dutch troops donated to Al-Muthanna Province for delivering purified drinking water was destroyed in a fatal four-vehicle accident Monday evening in the suburbs of Samawah, the provincial capital.

The water tanker was one of 50, including 12 provided by Japan, that the province was using. Provincial authorities have stepped up activities to deal with the water shortage using the vehicles.

According to witnesses, one of the vehicles in the accident was pushed onto the shoulder of the road, where it hit and killed two female pedestrians.

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