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Volunteer center set up in city of Kumamoto following quakes

KUMAMOTO -- The city of Kumamoto will open a municipal disaster volunteer center and begin accepting volunteers on April 22, local government officials announced on April 19.

The municipality is the first in the prefecture among those affected by the recent earthquakes to announce that it will accept volunteers.

While city officials had maintained that volunteer assistance was crucial to restoring civic life, initially there was no system to accept volunteers due to the chaos that followed the onset of the disaster and a lack of safety measures.

The volunteers will be tasked with cleaning up homes that were affected by the earthquakes, with the exception of dangerous structures that were fully or partially destroyed.

The volunteer center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning on April 22. It will be located in a public space temporarily named the "Hanabata Hiroba," at 7-10 Hanabata-cho in Kumamoto's Chuo Ward.

Volunteers will be responsible for their own accommodation and meals.

For more information, contact the center at 096-288-2748.

Meanwhile, persons affected by the earthquakes who need volunteer assistance can contact the center at 090-6653-1592.

In a separate initiative, Kumamoto has begun soliciting volunteers for a social welfare-oriented emergency shelter for elderly and disabled individuals. Costs such as transportation and lodging must be borne by the volunteers. To apply or find out more information, contact the city's support department for disabled individuals at 096-328-2519.

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