On 14th April 2016, a strong earthquake of magnitude 6.5 rattled the Kumamoto area of Kyushu, followed by a second quake of magnitude 7.3 on 16th April 2016. The two earthquakes caused the death of at least 49 people and injuries to about 3,000 others. Severe damage occurred in the affected areas, with numerous structures collapsing and catching fire. More than 44,000 people were evacuated from their homes. Shortly thereafter, the SSIO of China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan joined relief efforts by the authorities to assist communities that had been devastated by the earthquakes. On 2nd May 2016, Sathya Sai volunteers of Japan visited five evacuation shelters in Kumamoto – in Mashikimachi, Kashimamachi and Nishiharamura, and distributed free-standing tents, tent flooring coated with aluminium film, sweets, juice, fruit, blue sheets, towels, packing tape, and other items. Food, water, and daily necessities were provided to approximately 100 evacuees, mostly elderly, at the Kashima Higashi Elementary School. The offerings were particularly welcomed by the seniors, as the shelter lacked such amenities. On 3rd May 2016, Sathya Sai volunteers supplied electric fans and other equipment to a small isolated community of elders in Kosobu, Shiranuhimachi, in Uki-city. Sathya Sai volunteers also distributed free-standing tents, tent floors coated with aluminium film, toilet rolls, adult diapers, sanitary napkins, wet wipes, hand sanitisers, and isotonic powder to evacuees taking refuge at the Chouyou civic gymnasium in Minami-Aso village. Free-standing tents were likewise distributed to 10 people at the Ezu 7th Community Centre in Shimomuta, Ezumachi, Kumamoto city. These people had taken up living in a parking lot, as many houses in the area had collapsed. Tents, bedding, and portable toilets were distributed to residents of Ezu 3rd Community. On 5th May 2016, the SSIO distributed 108 pots of Udon noodles, four laundry machines, 120 “long-life” steamed rice packages, 10 waterproof tarpaulin sheets, 48 bottles of green tea, an electric rice cooker, a clothes rack, and 36 two-litre bottles of mineral water to local residents. On 7th May 2016, 60 meals were offered to refugees, in continuation of humanitarian relief services.
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