Noto quake survivors still struggling 1 month after disaster

Survivors of the Noto Peninsula earthquake in central Japan that killed at least 240 people continue to struggle as they try to find proper shelter.

Fifteen of the victims are believed to have died from causes related to the disaster after initially evacuating to safety. Another fifteen people remain missing.

Some survivors are dealing with the aftermath by themselves after losing multiple family members. The magnitude 7.6 quake hit one month ago on Thursday.

People in the affected areas observed a moment of silence at 4:10 p.m. That's the time the quake hit on New Year's Day.

Police officer Oma Keisuke lost his wife, daughter and two sons in the quake. It struck when the family was at his in-law's' house in Suzu City. The house was engulfed by mud and rocks as he was about to leave for work.

He said he is trying his best to face reality and move forward step by step. But he added that it is extremely difficult to accept what happened and he can't help but feel lonely.

More than 14,000 evacuees are living in temporary shelters in Ishikawa Prefecture, including school gymnasiums and town halls.

The first temporary housing units in the prefecture were completed in Wajima City on Wednesday to accommodate some of the evacuees.

But new challenges are emerging. One issue is vulnerable people who are staying at their homes.

The quake damaged the home Takenaka Shuji shares with his mother. They still don't have access to running water. The family hasn't moved to an evacuation center because the 96-year-old woman requires nursing care.

Takenaka said he wishes he could bring his mother to a shelter, but she can't go to the bathroom by herself and needs assistance around the clock.

Prefectural officials say at least 2,800 people can't go to evacuation centers because they require nursing care or due to other reasons. The officials say they will support such vulnerable people to prevent more disaster-related deaths.

Meanwhile, the central government's taskforce to rebuild affected areas held its first meeting on Thursday. The government says it will pay up to about 20,000 dollars in additional aid to each household with elderly people, if their home was badly damaged.

It also plans to repair an additional 21 facilities, including Noto airport and Wajima port, instead of leaving that to local governments.