The earthquakes in Kumamoto, Japan between April 14 and 16 devastated many lives, and the number of evacuees now exceed 200,000. The death toll has increased to 42, and 1,063 are reported to be injured. More than 2,000 houses have been collapsed or badly damaged. Infrastructure has been cut in most areas, and the difficulty in logistics to deliver the relief items are hampered by the road blockages in many parts of the city. Again, the earthquake is posing serious questions to how urban vulnerabilities should be addressed in such earthquake prone areas.
More than 500 aftershocks have now been observed, and the seismic intensity is now felt in adjacent prefecture in Ooita. In Kumamoto city alone, it is reported that 35,000 people are in need of special assistance (e.g. people with disabilities), but only a few among this number has made their way to evacuation centers. Normally, it is difficult for them to live in crowded evacuation centers where special assistance cannot be given.
CWS Japan is channeling its assistance through YMCA Japan, a long standing partner for protection of Fukushima children from radiation threats, has its Kumamoto YMCA branch, and it is currently running one of the evacuation centers in Mashiki-town in Kumamoto, where the destruction was the largest. CWS Japan’s partner Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center has been assessing situation on the ground for past 2 days, and the plan of volunteer management work is being geared up.
On April 17, CWS Japan issued its first humanitarian emergency appeal. We are grateful for kind offers and words of support we receive so far, in solidarity.