National

Students relieved as classes resume in typhoon-hit areas

Kyodo, Staff Report

Some schools in northeastern Japan that were hit hard by Typhoon Hagibis a week ago resumed classes Monday, bringing smiles to the faces of relieved pupils, parents and teachers.

Children in the prefectures of Miyagi and Fukushima, in which many places suffered flooding related to the deadly typhoon, were happy to see each other and to have a degree of normalcy restored to their lives.

“Some pupils whose houses were damaged have come from shelters or their relatives’ homes outside town, while others have lost their school bags and supplies,” said Hiro Ozawa, vice principal of Osato Elementary School.

The school held a special assembly in its gymnasium to offer silent prayers for victims of the typhoon.

Of the 37 public elementary, junior high and high schools in Fukushima Prefecture that were closed due to the typhoon, 31 resumed classes. “I’m relieved because my daughter wanted to see her friends,” said Satomi Yashiro, 47, after dropping her fifth-grader off at school in Iwaki.

A teacher responsible for health-related issues told pupils to take precautions such as cleaning their hands with wet wipes and gargling with water to avoid catching the flu as temperatures drop across the region. Water supplies are still cut off at an elementary school in the city.

Classes will resume Wednesday at public elementary and junior high schools in Marumori, Miyagi Prefecture, where many lives were lost in the typhoon, according to local officials. In the city of Nagano, in central Japan, where an embankment of the Chikuma River collapsed causing flooding across a large area, four municipal elementary and junior high schools remain closed.

As Japan continues to suffer from damage caused by Typhoon Hagibis earlier this month, the Meteorological Agency on Monday warned that two approaching weather systems might bring further heavy downpours this week in the devastated areas.

Worryingly, even small amounts of rain could cause landslides or floods, with ground softened and river banks breached by the downpours during Typhoon Hagibis. The earlier typhoon ruptured 135 levees and flooded 71 rivers, the agency said.

An extratropical low pressure system downgraded from typhoon status is expected to bring heavy rain Monday night through Tuesday to the Pacific coastal areas of eastern, central and western Japan.

Strong Typhoon Bualoi is also heading toward Japan, traveling near the Mariana Islands in a west-northwest direction at a speed of 20 kilometers per hour as of 3 p.m. Monday, with an atmospheric pressure of 955 hectopascals at its center.

As of Monday evening, Typhoon Hagibis had claimed the lives of 83 people in 13 prefectures and left 11 missing, according to calculations by Kyodo News.

More than 4,000 people are still unable to go back to their homes.

About 44,314 homes were without water as of Monday, around half the figure seen the previous day, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

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