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Schools in quake-hit towns in Hokkaido resume classes

Smiling pupils run to classes as Mukawa Municipal Mukawa Chuo Elementary School is reopened on Sept. 18, 2018, following a strong earthquake nearly two weeks ago. (Mainichi/Taichi Kaizuka)

ATSUMA, Hokkaido -- Five elementary, junior high and high schools here resumed classes on Sept. 18 following an intense earthquake that devastated this town and other areas in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido.

Schools in the neighboring towns of Mukawa and Abira have also reopened, bringing an end to all temporary suspensions of classes in those towns.

The resumption of classes comes almost two weeks after a quake measuring a full 7 on the 7-point Japanese seismic intensity scale caused widespread damage across Hokkaido, including landslides that killed 36 in Atsuma and a prefecture-wide blackout. Some school gyms are still serving as evacuation centers, but lively children filled classrooms.

Atsuma Municipal Atsuma Chuo Elementary School has 155 registered pupils. On Sept. 18, children arrived on school buses, and smiling teachers welcomed them, asking, "How have you been?"

Children at Mukawa Municipal Mukawa Chuo Elementary School, which has 200 students, exchanged lively greetings to each other in a school-wide meeting in the morning. In one classroom, pupils of another school that was damaged by the quake began to receive lessons.

(Japanese original by Kohei Shinkai, Hokkaido News Department)

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