Many survivors of the New Year's Day earthquake in central Japan are still struggling to access water. The magnitude 7.6 quake damaged infrastructure across the region. Now, nearly 40 days later, some 37,000 households still don't have running water.
Schools in the hard-hit city of Nanao started offering lunch again on Wednesday. The menu consisted of milk, rice balls and dessert -- nothing that required water to cook.
Baths are also a hot commodity in the area. Beppu, a hot spring town in western Japan, decided to chip in. It shipped bathwater from hundreds of kilometers away so residents could soak and unwind.
Most of the households in Suzu and Wajima cities still don't have water. Authorities are working to see if groundwater can be used as a provisional water supply.
Officials tested wells in Suzu, but say they won't know if water from them is safe for another month. If usable, they say the well water could address some daily needs, such as bathing or filling toilet cisterns.
But water is also necessary to treat the sick. Noto General Hospital in Nanao was finally able to resume dialysis treatments after restoring its water supply. Dialysis requires 500 liters of water per patient.
Dr. Izumiya Yoshiaki of the hospital said, "If we can't provide this treatment, it could be life-threatening for our patients. We hope we can help improve medical services in the area."
As for those who still don't have water, local authorities say the region's aging system was already vulnerable to earthquakes.
Over 100 workers from across the country are scrambling to fix it. But officials say complete recovery won't happen until April at the earliest.