Volunteers start helping with cleanup in quake-hit Noto Town

Volunteers have begun helping people in Ishikawa Prefecture's Noto Town, which suffered heavy damage from the powerful earthquake on New Year's Day.

Ishikawa Prefecture has been sending volunteers to quake-hit areas, including the cities of Nanao and Suzu, since January 27.

Eleven people who had registered with the prefecture arrived in Noto on Thursday morning.

They quickly headed to their designated places after being given shovels, gloves and other equipment for removing quake debris.

A volunteer in his 40s from Akita Prefecture, northern Japan, said many people came to help his prefecture when there was heavy rain, and he wants to return the favor.

Shoji Yoshihiro, the head of Noto Town's disaster-relief volunteer center, says people have eagerly been waiting for this kind of help. Shoji said he wants to speed up the volunteer activities by accepting people from outside the prefecture.

In consideration of the short daylight hours and the road situation, the town is limiting volunteer activities to those who can make day trips and work until 3 p.m.

The center says it wants to increase the number of volunteers and the hours they can work, based on the situation in the town.