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182 people still remain evacuated 2 weeks after Osaka quake

OSAKA -- Two weeks after a powerful earthquake struck northern Osaka Prefecture in western Japan, 182 people still remain evacuated at 30 evacuation shelters mainly in the prefectural cities of Ibaraki and Takatsuki, and the prefectural government is aiming to secure temporary housing for all evacuees by the end of July.

As of July 1, a total of 20,912 homes had been damaged due to the quake, which registered a lower 6 on the 7-point Japanese seismic intensity scale, including 20,858 homes that were partially damaged, according to the prefectural government. Altogether, a total of 22,497 homes were damaged in Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Nara prefectures.

The morning commute hour temblor left four people dead in Osaka Prefecture and 428 people injured in Osaka, Kyoto and five other prefectures, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency and other sources.

The Osaka Prefectural Government is set to provide temporary housing to evacuees who are judged by local municipalities to have difficulties returning home, for a period of up to one year free of charge. The prefecture has already secured 120 housing units, including those at prefecture-run housing complexes, and will also rent private housing to provide to evacuees.

At the Ibaraki community center in the prefectural city of Ibaraki, 12 local residents have taken shelter since the June 18 temblor. A 33-year-old female company employee, who is staying at the shelter with her two daughters aged 8 and 6, said the ceiling of her house hung down and there were cracks on the outer wall of the residence. "I fear the ceiling might collapse if another quake hits," she said. She has been looking for housing within the same school district so her children do not have to change schools, but has been unable to find anywhere suitable due to the high cost of rent.

Another evacuee, Kiyomi Ikegami, 77, suffered a stroke nine years ago that left the right side of her body paralyzed. "As I live by myself, I cannot leave this evacuation shelter thinking what if I get trapped between collapsing objects if another temblor strikes."

(Japanese original by Kenichiro Fuji, Osaka City News Department, and Yusuke Kato, Osaka Bureau)

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