Ishikawa struggling to prevent disaster-related deaths 5 months after quake

Authorities in Ishikawa Prefecture continue to face the challenge of preventing disaster-related deaths and social isolation of people in areas hit by the powerful New Year's Day earthquake in central Japan.

Saturday marks five months since the temblor jolted the Noto Peninsula. Ishikawa officials say 260 people have been confirmed dead in the prefecture with three others missing.

Among the victims, 30 died from disaster-related causes, such as stress and fatigue, while living away from home. The number of such deaths could rise further.

Efforts are underway to build temporary housing in affected communities. More than 4,400 units have been constructed so far, or nearly 70 percent of the number estimated necessary by the prefecture.

As more evacuees move into temporary houses, Ishikawa authorities are grappling with the risk of disaster-related death and isolation.

Prefecture officials plan to increase their efforts by sending public health nurses to visit temporary housing and offering meals and baths for the elderly. They also plan to create places where evacuees can gather to interact.

More than 3,000 people are still living in evacuation centers, waiting to move into housing where they can live with peace of mind.

The prefecture is accelerating the construction of more temporary units, but other challenges remain, such as demolition of collapsed houses and repairing damaged houses as soon as possible.