• Kyodo

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Most of the ¥750 million ($6.8 million) in relief money for victims of the powerful earthquakes that hit Kumamoto Prefecture last month has not been disbursed, local government officials said Tuesday.

The Kumamoto Prefectural Government transmitted the money to 25 municipalities on May 6. But the municipal governments are short of staff and struggling to issue damage certificates for the huge number of applications for assistance from people whose homes were damaged or destroyed.

As of Tuesday, some 102,456 homes and buildings in Kumamoto and neighboring Oita Prefecture were listed as damaged or destroyed by the magnitude-6.5 quake on April 14 and M7.3 quake two days later.

“There are over 60,000 applications for certificates of proof of destruction of homes, but we cannot grasp the full picture. We are short of staff, as personnel are pressed with other concerns, such as dealing with evacuees,” a Kumamoto city official said.

The prefectural government has earmarked ¥200,000 for every dead or missing person, ¥200,000 for those whose homes were completely destroyed, and ¥100,000 for partially damaged homes.

However by Tuesday, only ¥100,000 had been disbursed — a single payment to a family in Nagomi for a partially damaged home.

The prefectural government said a second tranche of ¥10 billion in assistance funds is ready, but when it can release the money is uncertain.

Donated money given directly to the cities, towns and villages has also not been distributed.

“I want the relief money as soon as possible because I hope to fix my house,” said a 31-year-old resident of the hard-hit town of Mashiki.

An employee of one of the affected local governments said the number of beneficiaries will increase, as the first tranche of relief money only took into account the damage known by the end of late April.

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