MASHIKI TOWN, Japan: Victims of last week's Kumamoto earthquakes are suffering from increased health complications as they await the construction of temporary houses in Japan.
About 120,000 victims are now living in shelters, many of which are without basic amenities such as water or electricity. The difficult living conditions in these centers is leading to a rise in the number of patients falling ill.
A total of 11 people have died from illnesses believed to be related to the physical demands caused by evacuation following the earthquakes. Economy Class Syndrome is one such condition which has hit over 20 people and resulted in three deaths.
“Economy Class Syndrome means that if people sleep in vehicles, their blood circulation would be slowed, and blood would stay in the veins of the legs and then flow into lungs fast, thus leading to blood clots, dyspnea and even the risk of death,” said Hiromichi Masuda, a doctor from the Japanese Red Cross.
“Economy Class Syndrome has been caused by the earthquake in Japan. Three people have died from that. We heard that sports are important for us to avoid getting it,” said Mito Nishi, a volunteer.
In a shelter at Mashiki Town, some 1,200 victims are residing at a site which is monitored by just 20 staffmembers. This has led to sanitation problems such as inadequate toilet cleaning and garbage handling.
“The power supply has been recovered in our area, but the water supply has not. There is no water supply even in this building. What’s more, many people cannot make sure it’s safe to go back home due to the large magnitude [of the quake],” said Lee Yamane, a staffmember at the shelter.
“I have been here for five days since last Saturday. Half of my articles at home were damaged, so my family came here. We don’t know where to live in future. However, we hope to live in temporary houses if necessary. Now we have to wait here,” said Kami Nishikawa, a victim currently residing at the shelter.
With the building of temporary houses not set to be completed within the foreseeable future, some victims may have to prepare for a prolonged period living in the shelters.
“Those people who lost their homes need to live in the makeshift houses set up by the government. However, what comes primarily is to repair roads, which should be followed by the construction of the temporary houses. Based on our experience, victims may need to live here for two or three months,” said Yamane.