Kumamoto to close smaller quake shelters with eye to reopening schools


The city of Kumamoto, hit by deadly earthquakes in April, will start closing some shelters and ask about 2,000 of their occupants to move to different ones with better living conditions, city officials said Sunday.

Kumamoto, where some 5,200 people are still taking refuge and 160 shelters have been set up, plans to ask evacuees to move to any of 18 shelters where better privacy, comfort and medical care are available, the officials said.

As some shelters were set up inside school gymnasiums, the transfer is also aimed at allowing more schools to fully resume classes, the officials said.

But the city will not force people who wish to stay at their current shelters to move elsewhere, they said.

There were over 110,000 evacuees at one time after the initial magnitude-6.5 quake struck central Kyushu on April 14, followed by a more powerful magnitude-7.3 quake two days later.

At least 49 people were killed by the quakes.

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