SAPPORO – At least 354 schools, universities and other educational institutions in Hokkaido were damaged in the powerful earthquake that struck the prefecture Sept. 6, a tally by the central and local governments showed.
In most cases, the deadly quake that occurred shortly after 3 a.m. caused relatively minor damage. But in some cases, classroom and corridor windows were shattered, ceilings partially collapsed and lighting fixtures knocked down.
The education ministry is calling on schools to take measures to ensure the safety of students due to the lingering potential for the prefecture to experience aftershocks.
According to the ministry and the Hokkaido Prefectural Government, 41 kindergartens, 136 elementary schools, 67 junior high schools, 66 high schools and other institutions have reported damage thus far.
Many of the institutions most affected by the quake were in the hardest-hit town of Atsuma, which registered the maximum 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, and the capital city of Sapporo, which experienced a lower 6 .
No one was injured inside the schools during the overnight quake.
A senior high school teacher remarked, “I get a shudder thinking ‘What if it happened when students were inside?’ “
In other cases, library bookshelves and fences on school property toppled over.
In the city of Eniwa, where the quake registered an upper 5, windows at the gymnasium of Eniwaminami High School fell to the ground and shattered. Pieces of concrete also dropped from the gymnasium ceiling. At Sanrizuka Elementary School in Sapporo, concrete chunks from a fourth floor corridor ceiling also fell, prompting the school to close off the area to students.