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MIYAKONOJO, Miyazaki Pref. (Kyodo) An increasing number of aid workers, including some who helped out after the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and the 2000 major eruption of Mount Miyake, are heading to Takaharu, Miyazaki Prefecture, near Japan’s latest volcanic activity.

The volunteers hope to use their experience to ease the anxiety of people forced out of their homes since Mount Shinmoe started erupting last month.

Many of the evacuees are elderly. Other residents who still remain home also have fears of possible avalanches triggered by the volcano.

Since the eruptions first occurred Jan. 19, an estimated 80 million tons of ash have fallen on a wide area, according to the Coordinating Committee for Prediction of Volcanic Eruptions under the Meteorological Agency.

The first batch of aid workers from a Kobe-based group will arrive in Takaharu on Monday. They plan to provide hot water for evacuees. Many of them haven’t been able to bathe at their shelter.

Nobuyuki Kurita, 46, head of an aid group based in Nagoya, is arranging a similar hot-water service. He said this type of care is vital for displaced people.

People who have experienced volcanic eruptions, including people who lived near Mount Miyake off the Izu Peninsula and Mount Usu in Hokkaido, are arranging counseling services for the evacuees.

“In many cases, volcanic eruptions can drag on and on, weighing heavily on the lives of evacuees,” said Kana Miyashita, 41, who organized aid workers with such experience.

Meanwhile, a central government team will be sent this week to Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures to work up a response plan.

On Saturday, the Liberal Democratic Party grabbed the opportunity to listen to local needs, with President Sadakazu Tanigaki visiting a shelter in Takaharu.

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