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With nearly 7,000 quake-damaged homes, focus shifts to rebuilding disaster-hit areas

Takatsuki Municipal Juei Elementary School Principal Yoshimi Tanaka, center, and other teachers from the school offer their prayers on the one-week anniversary of the earthquake, at the site where 9-year-old student Rina Miyake died, in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, on June 25, 2018. (Mainichi)

OSAKA -- A week after a powerful earthquake centered in northern Osaka Prefecture shook western Japan on June 18, a total of 6,925 homes have been confirmed damaged in Osaka and three other prefectures, and as of June 25, there are still 469 evacuees scattered across Osaka Prefecture.

The quake, which came in at a maximum of lower 6 on the Japanese 7-point seismic intensity scale, damaged 6,368 homes in Osaka Prefecture, including three residences that were judged to be completely destroyed, and 13 partially destroyed. In neighboring Kyoto Prefecture, there were 552 damaged houses, in Nara Prefecture, three, and two in Hyogo Prefecture for a grand total of 6,925 damaged residences across the Kansai region.

Lifelines such as gas and water, as well as important railway networks are all back online. Municipal governments have also opened applications for disaster victim certificates, and attention has shifted to rebuilding the lives and livelihoods of those affected by the quake.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications' Fire and Disaster Management Agency and other sources, there were five fatalities in Osaka Prefecture, and a total of 417 injuries across Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hyogo, Shiga, Mie and Tokushima prefectures. While the number of displaced residents had at one point reached a peak of some 2,400 people in Osaka Prefecture, the number had fallen to 469 evacuees in 116 locations, as of 7:30 a.m. on June 25.

Gas services were suspended for approximately 110,000 households in the Osaka prefectural cities of Takatsuki and Ibaraki and elsewhere, but were completely restored by the evening of June 24. Water was also cut to many homes as the violent shaking of the quake cracked aged water pipes and caused other problems, but they were quickly repaired.

The June 18 temblor struck at the peak of the morning rush hour commute, and led to Japan Railways Co. and other private railway lines to halt services on almost all train lines. At one point, some 200,000 people were stuck in trains having made emergency stops on the tracks, and the total number of people that felt the effect of the quake on public transport has reached some 5.47 million.

After a 9-year-old student of Takatsuki Municipal Juei Elementary School died after being crushed by a concrete block wall that collapsed on her due to the quake, the municipal government of Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, began tearing down block walls that possibly violated the Building Standards Act at municipal elementary and junior high schools on June 25.

Schools across every municipality in Osaka Prefecture have also begun carrying out emergency inspections of school facilities, and the local government of Minoo has decided to demolish all block walls at public elementary and junior high schools within the city.

(Japanese original by Toru Tsukui, Takashi Yamashita and Kazuki Ikeda, Osaka City News Department)

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