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Evacuees in western Japan face new challenges with summer heat, lack of information

Residents receive water at an evacuation center in the Mabicho district of Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, on the morning of July 10, 2018. (Mainichi)

KURASHIKI, Okayama -- As the sky clears from the torrential rains that battered this and wide areas of western Japan, those displaced from their homes who are living in evacuation centers are facing yet another dire problem -- heatstroke and other complications from a sweltering summer.

Roughly 1,300 residents of the hard-hit Mabicho district of Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, have evacuated to Kibiji Arena in the nearby city of Soja in the same prefecture. However, there is no air conditioning in the facility, and all the evacuees can do is try to wave away the heat with hand fans. According to the Soja Municipal Government, at least two people have been rushed to the hospital due to suspected heatstroke. After requests from the residents, movement to another facility is progressing.

"The rain stopped, and it got extremely hot," says Hideo Uchida, a 74-year-old resident of Kurashiki's Mabicho district. "You get drenched in sweat just sitting down doing nothing."

A local bathing facility has been set up free of charge for residents in Mabicho, but those without cars cannot make the journey there, and many continue to go without being able to bathe.

Most fled with only the clothes on their backs, and adding insult to injury, the exhausted evacuees also have little access to information about the safety of not only friends and family, but also if the water has receded and if the roads are clear so they can try to return to their homes.

(Japanese original by Yudai Katami, Takamatsu Bureau and Nana Hayashida, Okayama Bureau)

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