National

Government prepares to build 3,000 temporary homes for Kyushu evacuees

Kyodo

The government has access to enough materials to build about 3,000 temporary housing units for people whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the Kyushu earthquakes, a Cabinet minister said Tuesday.

Taro Kono, minister in charge of disaster management, made the announcement at a Diet meeting.

Tens of thousands of evacuees in Kumamoto Prefecture remain in shelters such as gyms.

The temporary homes will be built by local governments as soon as land is obtained.

The government has also secured about 1,500 privately owned housing units in Kumamoto that can be rented and roughly 9,000 public housing units nationwide, Kono said.

“We would like to make all-out efforts so (evacuees) can be moved to places in a better living environment before it gets hot,” Kono said of the rapidly approaching summer.

A magnitude-6.5 quake struck on April 14. This was followed by a total of 910 temblors that could be felt by humans in Kumamoto and Oita prefectures by 10 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Meteorological Agency.

One of them was massive: A magnitude-7.3 quake shook the region April 16.

Meanwhile, there are signs that businesses are returning to normalcy.

Kyushu Railway Co. is likely to resume on Thursday bullet-train service on the section of the Kyushu Shinkansen Line from Kumamoto to Shin-Minamata stations, a company official said.

With that, the operator will have restored service on the entire line one day earlier than scheduled and in time for the Golden Week holiday period starting later this week.

On Monday, the Self-Defense Forces found the body of Kanao Hayakawa, 71, in the debris of a mudslide in Minamiaso, Kumamoto Prefecture, raising the confirmed death toll to 49.

Rescuers are still searching for a 22-year-old university student who is believed to have been caught in a mudslide near a collapsed bridge in the village.

The Kumamoto Prefectural Government says 14 people are believed to have died from medical issues triggered by stress and fatigue after being displaced by the quakes.