Earthquake in Hokkaido, 1,600 people still displaced

Strong damage to infrastructure and homes, due to the liquefaction of the land. Displaced people live in gyms and public places. The cold season will start soon. Electric supply still unstable.

Sapporo (AsiaNews) - Around 1,600 residents of the island of Hokkaido are likely to remain homeless for a long time after the earthquake of 6 September damaged or destroyed more than 100 buildings.

Currently displaced persons are housed in school gyms and other public places. The accommodation is likely to have health as well as psychological consequences on the evacuated. The complete restoration of electricity could take several weeks, while the cold season will start shortly in Hokkaido. At present, the government has started issuing certificates for "disaster victims"; the designated will be able to apply for accommodation in the town hall.

It is not clear how many houses will remain unusable for a long time in the prefectural capital of Sapporo. "Avalanches and unexpected land liquefaction in urban areas have caused a lot of damage and victims", reports Msgr. Bernard Katsuya, bishop of Sapporo. The "liquefaction of the soil" occurs when, generally following a quake, the soil is subjected to water pressure and behaves like a fluid. In Hokkaido, the phenomenon also affected the area surrounding the thermal power plant. However, Hokkaido Electric Power Co. ensures that this will not stop the repair work.