Dashcam footage shows tremors and tsunami of Japan quake

Newly obtained dashcam video shows the violent tremors and tsunami of the New Year's Day earthquake that killed 240 people and damaged tens of thousands of homes along the Sea of Japan coast.

A video from Suzu City, Ishikawa Prefecture, when the magnitude-7.6 earthquake hit, shows a building collapsing within around a second. It also shows the inside of a vehicle as the quake wrenches the steering wheel left and right.

The vehicle camera captured houses along the street going down in clouds of dust. And about 40 minutes later, after passengers had gotten out of the car, it was swept away by the tsunami. Waves of muddy brown water flooded the streets.

A month after the disaster, temporary housing is being built for survivors. Wajima was one of the hardest-hit cities. Eighteen houses will be available here starting Saturday. They are equipped with water tanks, to cover supply outages. Fifty-five people plan to move in. It is a start, but officials say more than 4,000 applicants are waiting for housing in the city.

One of the most urgent tasks is restoring water supplies and other basic necessities. A 75-year-old shop owner has kept his business running to help his community.

Officials in Ishikawa Prefecture have confirmed nearly 50,000 houses were partially damaged or destroyed in the disaster. But survivors must have the damage certified, if they are to get public assistance.

However, the Cabinet Office says while more than 40,000 applications have been filed, only about 9,000 certificates have been issued so far. It is blaming the delay on severed roads and damaged accommodation facilities, which make it difficult for local officials to physically assess the buildings.

An anti-disaster planning expert proposes using AI to expedite the process. Professor Fujiu Makoto worked up an estimate of the number of buildings destroyed in the center of Wajima and Suzu cities. He utilized the results of onsite inspections and AI analysis of aerial images.

Fujiu says his figures suggest that in both city centers, the disaster razed at least 30 percent of all buildings. He said local governments could use his calculation methods to provide the needy with damage certificates more quickly.