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Over 1,700 evacuated in quake-hit Osaka Pref. for fear of mudslides

A child sleeps in the gymnasium of an elementary school designated as an evacuation shelter in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, on June 19, 2018. (Mainichi)

OSAKA -- Over 1,700 people were taking shelter at about 300 evacuation centers in quake-hit Osaka Prefecture on June 20 for fear that heavy rain could trigger mudslides and other disasters, the Mainichi Shimbun has found.

A man was found dead at his home in the prefectural city of Takatsuki on June 19, bringing the number of victims in the disaster to five. A total of 408 people have so far been confirmed injured.

Osaka Prefecture was hit by heavy rain on June 20, two days after a powerful earthquake jolted the area. The temblor measured lower 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale in some regions. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) is calling on residents to be extremely careful of mudslides and swollen rivers.

The JMA at one point issued a heavy rain warning in 15 municipalities near the quake epicenter, including Ibaraki, Hirakata and Minoo. A total of 41 people in 14 households in the cities of Hirakata and Minoo were ordered to evacuate. The municipal governments of Hirakata, Minoo, Toyonaka and Takatsuki issued evacuation advisories to about 1,800 people in 770 households. Of them, 1,777 people in 739 households are residents of Minoo.

The JMA's Osaka Regional Headquarters said the atmosphere above the Kinki region around Osaka will remain unstable until around the evening of June 20 because of the seasonal rain front.

The amount of rain over a 24-hour period ending at 6 a.m. on June 21 is estimated at up to 60 millimeters in the northern Kinki region, 250 millimeters in central Kinki and 300 millimeter in southern Kinki. The volume of hourly rain is forecasted to reach a maximum of 40 millimeters in Osaka Prefecture and 30 millimeters in southern Kyoto Prefecture.

According to the Osaka Prefectural Government's disaster task force, 1,708 people were taking shelter at 316 locations as of 8 a.m. on June 20. Gas supplies remain cut off to more than 110,000 households in Ibaraki, Takatsuki and other areas. The prefectural government has decided to dispatch 30 officials to each of these two cities for disaster relief efforts.

Most of the public elementary and junior high schools in Takatsuki and Ibaraki near the quake's epicenter have resumed classes. Some parents were seen accompanying their children to school apparently for fear of aftershocks.

Teachers at Takatsuki Municipal Akaoji Elementary School stood along designated school commuting routes at around 8 a.m., calling on children not to approach concrete-block walls. The move follows the death of a 9-year-old girl who was crushed under a concrete block wall surrounding a swimming pool at another elementary school in the city.

"I'm worried about my daughter's safety because such an accident occurred at a nearby school. I'd like to accompany her to school until the aftershocks end," the father of a sixth grader at the Akaoji school said.

Takatsuki Municipal Juei Elementary School, where the 9-year-old girl was fatally crushed under the collapsed concrete block wall, will resume classes on June 21 and hold a meeting with the students' parents.

Meanwhile, the fifth victim of the quake was identified as 66-year-old Norihiro Kusumoto. He was found dead at his home in Takatsuki on June 19 after his younger sister reported to emergency services at around 11 a.m. that she could not contact her brother, who was living in a detached house on the same property as her in Takatsuki. Rescue workers found him collapsed on the second floor of the structure. Multiple bags containing a large number of magazines and compact discs had fallen on him, according to a local fire station.

(Japanese original by Ryo Watanabe and Koki Matsumoto, Osaka Science & Environment News Department, and Toru Tsukui, Kazuki Ikeda, and Hiroko Michishita, Osaka City News Department)

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