Students in flood-hit area back to school for first time after disaster

Kyodo

Students in one of the areas hardest hit by heavy rain last month in Okayama Prefecture returned to school Tuesday for the first time since deadly downpours ravaged the western region.

Before the start of their new school term next Monday, students of Yata elementary school in the Mabicho district of Kurashiki gathered at a different facility as their school building has yet to be restored after floodwater reached the second floor. They last attended the school on July 5.

Principal Takumi Osaki told a school assembly, “I believe many of you must have had a terrifying experience in the torrential rains. I am so happy that you are all safe and are now back at school.”

A riverbank near the elementary school collapsed in the downpours, causing a wide area to become inundated. According to the local education board, 287 students at the school were unhurt but a massive amount of mud flowed inside the school building.

Until a temporary school building is constructed, students will attend classes at different schools for about one month.

“I was waiting to see my friends. I want to study hard and play with everyone,” said Hiroki Misawa, a 10-year-old fifth grader.

At least 226 people died and 10 others remain unaccounted for in the torrential rains that caused landslides and flooding across western Japan.