Hundreds of volunteers arriving to help quake-hit Kumamoto

DESTRUCTION — Photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter (above) shows severe damage to a road following a magnitude-7.3 quake in Minamiaso, Kumamoto Prefecture, on April 16, in the wake of a magnitude 6.5 quake that rocked the area on April 14. Kyodo News photo  ==Kyodo

DESTRUCTION — Photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter (above) shows severe damage to a road following a magnitude-7.3 quake in Minamiaso, Kumamoto Prefecture, on April 16, in the wake of a magnitude 6.5 quake that rocked the area on April 14. Kyodo News photo
==Kyodo

KUMAMOTO, Japan — Hundreds of volunteers arrived in Kumamoto and other prefectures in southwestern Japan on April 22, seeking to help people in some of the areas hardest-hit by the continuing series of earthquakes.

Some 1,000 people reported to Kumamoto city, the first batch of volunteers to be accepted by the prefectural capital, as the health of people stuck in evacuation centers becomes an increasingly serious issue across the region.

More than a week had passed since the initial magnitude-6.5 quake on April 14, which was followed by a M7.3 quake on April 16. While the death toll from the quakes stands at 48, 11 other people are suspected to have died due to health issues triggered by stress and fatigue while evacuating from their homes.

The Self-Defense Forces and police resumed their search for two missing people in the village of Minamiaso on April 15 following the suspension of recovery operations a day earlier due to fears of possible landslides amid heavy rain.

The volunteers in the city of Kumamoto, where some 50,000 people remain evacuated from their homes, began helping with distribution of food and other supplies at evacuation centers and cleaning up of houses.

The hardest-hit Kumamoto town of Mashiki received about 390 volunteers April 15. As part of international assistance to the quake-hit areas, two South Korean transport planes carrying aid materials such as water, blankets and pre-packaged rice arrived at Kumamoto airport April 15, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reports in Tokyo.

“I would like to thank the South Korean government for this heart-warming assistance,” the top government spokesman said. “This assistance means a lot also in terms of Japan-South Korean relations.”

About 5,000 packs of baby milk will arrive from Finland soon, according to the Japan-Finland parliamentary association.

More than 800 seismic events ranging from minor jolts to strong earthquakes have been detected in the region since the initial quake, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

A team of researchers led by Tokyo Denki University professor Susumu Yasuda, who surveyed Kumamoto and Mashiki after the powerful quakes, said they found dozens of cases of ground liquefaction along rivers and at other locations.

In some cases, buildings were left askew or foundations were visible as previously solid, but water-soaked ground, flowed away during the violent shaking.

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