Noto earthquake: Police disclose victims' causes of death

Japan's National Police Agency has listed the causes of death of victims of the New Year's Day earthquake.
The agency has told NHK that many are believed to have been waiting to be rescued shortly before they died.

238 deaths have been confirmed in the quake that struck Ishikawa Prefecture in central Japan. 19 are unaccounted for.

Causes of death were given for 222 people. Ninety-two were crushed to death. 49 died of suffocation or respiratory failure. And 32 suffered hypothermia.

But rescue workers did save many people trapped in collapsed buildings. 60-year-old Amaike Masaharu lives in Wajima City. He was on the first floor of his home when the earthquake hit.
Amaike says he was lying face down under the gap between beams and the floor. He says a low table which created the gap saved his life. It may be small but he believes it prevented him from being crushed.
He says, "If the table had been just a few dozen centimeters away at the time, I probably would have been crushed by falling beams. It was a narrow escape."

Kako Yoshinobu is an expert on rescuing people trapped in rubble. He says, "In some cases, people managed to get themselves into pockets within the rubble and escaped injury. We need to think about how to evacuate when there is no time to run away."
Yet the cold of winter can prove deadly.

Kako says many people who died of hypothermia were in areas that were difficult to access...as rescuers were held up by damaged roads and traffic congestion.
He says, "It's impossible for rescue workers to arrive at disaster sites straight away. There needs to be a discussion about what to do while waiting for their arrival."

In a related development, the first temporary housing in Ishikawa Prefecture was completed on Wednesday. Occupancy in the units in Wajima will begin from Saturday.

Eighteen are ready. Residents have filed more than 4,000 applications.

Ishikawa prefecture's goal is to start building at least 3,000 temporary units by the end of March.