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Students all smiles as classes resume in Japan's typhoon-hit areas

Children return to school in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture as classes resume in typhoon-hit areas. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Some schools in northeastern Japan that were hard hit by Typhoon Hagibis a week ago resumed classes on Monday, bringing smiles to the faces of relieved pupils, parents and teachers.

Children were happy to see each other and to have their lives back to some type of normalcy in the prefectures of Miyagi and Fukushima, areas in which many places suffered flooding related to the deadly typhoon.

"Some pupils whose houses were damaged have come from shelters or their relatives' homes outside town, while others have lost their school bags and supplies," said Hiro Ozawa, vice principal of Osato Elementary School.

The school held a special assembly at its gymnasium to offer a silent prayer to the victims of the typhoon.

Of the 37 public elementary, junior high and high schools in Fukushima Prefecture which were closed due to the typhoon, 31 resumed classes.

"I'm relieved because my daughter wanted to see her friends," Satomi Yashiro, 47, said after dropping her fifth-grader off at her school in Iwaki.

A nursing teacher told pupils to take precautions such as cleaning their hands with wet wipes and gargling with water to avoid catching the flu as temperatures drop across the region. The water supply is still cut off at an elementary school in the city.

Classes will resume on Wednesday at public elementary and junior high schools in Marumori, Miyagi Prefecture, where many lives were lost in the typhoon, according to local officials.

In the central Japan city of Nagano, where an embankment of the Chikuma River collapsed and flooded a large area, four municipal elementary and junior high schools remain closed.

The Japan Meteorological Agency warned that two approaching typhoons might bring heavy downpours this week in the devastated areas.

Worryingly, even small amounts of rain could cause landslides or floods with ground softened and river banks breached by the downpours during Typhoon Hagibis, the agency said.

Typhoon Neoguri is expected to bring heavy rain Monday night through Tuesday to the Pacific coastal areas of eastern, central and western Japan.

Another strong Typhoon Bualoi is also heading toward Japan, traveling near the Mariana Islands in a west-northwest direction at a speed of 20 kilometers per hour as of 3 p.m. Monday, with an atmospheric pressure of 955 hectopascals at its center.

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