KUNAMOTO, Japan: The current focus in Kumamoto City is to provide relief to victims of last week's earthquake and to start clean-up operations in damaged areas.
Local media reports say there are about 120,000 evacuees living in shelters. There are some 58,000 evacuees living in some 700 shelters within the city itself.
These ladies keeping spirits up by singing a popular Kumamoto folk song called "Otemoyam" pic.twitter.com/AGXZ1vLLEg— Afifah Ariffin (@AfifahCNA) April 21, 2016
One such shelter in Kumamoto City is Sunatori Primary School, which currently houses some 350 people in its gymnasium, classrooms and even along the corridors. Most of them are children and the elderly. They have access to food, water and electricity.
However, relief assistance groups say many evacuees are still living in unofficial centres, which do not receive official government support. As a result, many evacuees still do not have access to basic amenities such as water, electricity or food.
Meanwhile, relief efforts are ongoing in the town of Mashiki - one of the worst hit areas - where many houses crumbled to the ground. The town had many areas cordoned off with city officials guarding them to ensure no residents enter these dangerous zones. There were very few people walking around.
Japanese military personnel make onigiri - Japanese rice balls - to distribute to quake victims outside Mashiki's town hall. (Photo: Afifah Ariffin)
The Japanese military have set up a food supply centre at the parking lot of the Mashiki Town Hall, which is also where residents were gathered on the night the earthquake struck. There are also tents set up that are providing other non-food relief items such as sanitation kits, diapers, and tissues.
Supplies like diapers, tissue and sanitation kits are distributed at a supply centre at the parking lot of the Mashiki Town Hall. (Photo: Afifah Ariffin)
On Thursday evening (Apr 21), a coordination meeting took place between several aid groups including Singapore NGO Mercy Relief. They discussed about coordination plans, what the current needs are and the efforts moving forward to ensure all needs are met.