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2014年8月27日 (水)

広島土砂災害 安否確認と被災者支援を急げ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Safety confirmation, aid to Hiroshima disaster survivors must be expedited
広島土砂災害 安否確認と被災者支援を急げ

The death toll from the ground disaster in the city of Hiroshima has topped 50, with more than 20 people still reported missing.

Confirming the safety of the missing people and assisting disaster survivors must be carried out as quickly as possible.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who inspected the disaster-stricken area Monday, said the government will designate the massive mudslides as a disaster of extreme severity requiring special financial support. “The government will make all-out efforts to search for the missing people,” he said. Abe also presented plans to launch a disaster victim assistance team and accelerate efforts to help victims rebuild their livelihoods. These plans must be carried out steadily.

The search for the missing people has continued in the disaster area amid bad weather. Heavy rain is forecast to hit a wide area, including the city of Hiroshima, in the week to come.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has begun to install wire-fixed sensors near the top of the debris flows. The sensors are designed to sound an alarm should the wires be cut if a landslide occurs.

Police and the Self-Defense Forces have assigned their personnel to higher ground to keep watch for additional cliff collapses. Helicopter surveillance is also continuing.

The search for missing people must be conducted in such a way as to ensure a secondary disaster does not occur.

Appropriate action

The Hiroshima municipal government on Monday disclosed via the media and its website personal information about the missing people, including their names, addresses and ages, which had been obtained from Hiroshima prefectural police. This is an appropriate action.

The city previously considered such information as personal and refrained from releasing it. However, this caused a situation in which the number of missing people differed among the police, city and fire station.

The city’s personal information protection ordinance stipulates that such information can be provided when there is no other way to protect people’s lives and assets in times of disaster. An expert said, “Disclosure has validity during search and rescue operations when there is no time to lose.”

Some of the missing people possibly took refuge at relatives’ homes and could not be contacted. Public disclosure may be one way to determine who is missing.

About 1,600 disaster survivors have been forced to live in evacuation centers, such as gymnasiums. There is a high risk of heatstroke and other diseases occurring at these centers, which do not have air conditioners. Meticulous health care management is imperative.

The mental burdens evacuees now carry are heavy as they have no privacy, making mental care by the Disaster Psychiatric Assistance Team, among others, essential.

The Hiroshima municipal government has begun accepting applications from survivors who lost their homes for public housing units. Construction of temporary houses and acquisition of private rental apartments will also have to be studied.

Measures to support the survivors must be carried out depending on their circumstances.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 26, 2014)


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