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NPA: Most Kumamoto earthquake victims trapped on 1st floors

Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — Nearly 80 percent of the victims taken out by police from under collapsed wooden houses after the April 2016 earthquakes in and near Kumamoto Prefecture had been trapped in tiny spaces on the first floors, an analysis by the National Police Agency showed Thursday.

The agency plans to post on its website case examples of how rescue workers pulled the victims out of the collapsed houses by creating sufficient spaces, for use by administrative agencies or officials engaged in disaster prevention and response efforts.

The analysis report was released just before the first anniversary Friday of the first of the strong quakes that hit Kumamoto and nearby prefectures.

The NPA analyzed information collected through interviews and a written survey on rescue workers about their activities at the time of the Kumamoto quakes.

According to the analysis, police took the initiative in rescue activities at 39 sites, including in the city of Kumamoto, the town of Mashiki and the village of Minamiaso, and all of them were wooden houses with collapsed first floors.

Of 60 people taken out of these sites, including 42 survivors, about 80 percent were caught in spaces of less than 75 centimeters in height and some 70 percent were people in their 60s or older.

Rescue activities worked out better for cases in which workers secured spaces beneath the victims who were compressed by objects such as ceiling panels and beams than cases in which workers lifted up the objects.

“Police officers haven’t received training to create spaces under the victims,” an NPA official said. “We plan to start such training in disaster-relief drills.”

On April 14, 2016, a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 hit the Kumamoto region, followed by a 7.3-magnitude quake two days later. Both temblors registered the highest seismic intensity reading of 7 on the 10-point Japanese scale in some Kumamoto locations.

A total of 50 people died due to building collapses and other direct causes of the quakes.Speech

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