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The Initial Correspondence of Kumamoto University towards 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake

The Initial Correspondence of Kumamoto University
towards 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake
13 May, 2016
Kumamoto University

1. Introduction
In Kumamoto Prefecture, there was a 6.5 magnitude foreshock on Thursday, 14 April at 9:26 p.m. and a 7.3 magnitude main shock on Saturday, 16 April at 1:25 a.m. Since the foreshock on the 14 April, Kumamoto University has been reporting its damages through the university web site. As a month has passed by and teaching schedule has resumed, this present report gives an overall picture of the damages found and a summary of the initial correspondences taken by the university after the earthquake.
2. Immediate Response after the Earthquake
(1) The Establishment of Disaster Countermeasures Headquarters (DCH)
  • After the foreshock, university Trustee for finance and facilities was involved, and available staff were gathered to identify the situation of damages. Information of damages collected, including those submitted by the hospitals, were reported by the said Trustee to the president of the university.
  • The next morning, the DCH headed by the university president himself was established. The collection of information regarding damages faced as well as initial correspondences was started.   
(2) The Initial Correspondences
  •  At the first meeting of the DCH, tasks group were established. They are general affairs group, publicity and information group, and victims management group.
  • Each task group proceeded with their portfolio given utilizing phones, emails, web system, etc, with priorities given to the confirmation of the safety of staff and students, including international students.
(3) Inter-organizational Coordination
  • A meeting for coordination between the heads of different departments on Monday, 18 April. Information of temporal actions taken in the coming week related to the situations of victims and the recovery of the damaged facilities.
  • At the same meeting, the university president requested each department to establish a management team for 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake, to identify matters for scrutiny and to device a schedule for recovery work.
  • At present, the recovery work are being restructured at the central DCH into short, mid and long term categories, based on the report submitted by each management team.        
3. Damage Report
(1)  Casualties
  • The safety of staff and students were checked through above-mentioned means after the foreshock and the main shock. 
  • At present, status of all staff and students have been confirmed. 83 students and 11 staff have reported minor injuries. 
  • A student survey of the disaster situation as well as school commute was conducted on Monday, 25 April.

(2) Property Damage
  • There were damages and tearing down observed on the chimney and roof tiles in the Memorial Museum of the Fifth High School, a national cultural property, by the foreshock. 
  • Wall crack, spalling and leaking was observed on other buildings.
  • Tearing down, wall crack, etc was also observed in the Chemical Laboratory of the Fifth High School, another national cultural property, and in the Museum of the Engineering Faculty by the main shock.
  • The three said buildings stop operating and the entrance into their compound is being restricted.
  • As observed with Faculty of Engineering Bldg. No.1 in Kurokami Campus, many buildings in different campuses suffered wall crack, spalling, falling of the ceiling, and leaking.
  • In view of this, university staff in charge of facilities, together with support staff sent from Kyushu University had conducted examination of emergent degree of risk, and had sealed another two buildings from usage.
  • As crack was reported with the Uruge Housing Complex area, instruction to leave was given to part of the residences in the staff quarters and in the International House which are located at the same area. At present, sessions of the staff quarters and the International House are marked no entry.
  • Investigation of damages inside the building was conducted with the help of the five universities in Kyushu area, they are Kyushu University, Saga University, Nagasaki University, University of Miyazaki and Kagoshima University.
  • There are many cases of damage and falling of laboratory equipment, which are now under investigation.
  • With regards to all laboratories that apply chemicals etc., investigation was conducted, and handlings that require emergency measures are complete.
  • On 1 May, Hiroshi Hase, the minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology visited the University Elementary School and Junior High School, and examined the situation of the national cultural properties and the building of Faculty of Engineering.
  • On 7 May, the Agency for Cultural Affairs investigated the national cultural properties.
  • As the emergency measures were completed, the University Elementary School conducted a briefing session on 8 May to explain about the reopening of school.           
(3) Utilities
  • Water and gas supply was suspended after the main shock while electricity was not affected.
  • During the period of water suspension, well water was provided in certain campuses.
  • At present, electricity, water and gas supply resume as usual.
  • Elevators and escalators resume after inspection except some that require repair.
4. The Evacuation Shelter
  • The following was set up as evacuation shelter right after the foreshock: The Gymnasium and Athletic Field of North Kurokami Campus, and, the Oe Gymnasium of the School of Pharmacy.
  • After the main shock, the following was added as evacuation shelter: The General Education Building in the North Kurokami Campus, the Honjo Gymnasium, the University Elementary School Gymnasium, and, the classrooms of University Junior High School. At one time, these shelters housed around 2,800 students and local resident.
  • These shelters were managed by university staff and volunteers working together with the officers from Kumamoto City Office. In addition, international students also helped with interpretation as volunteers.
  • Shortage of material supplies due to the increased number of refugee was recovered by immediate additional supplies provided by Kyushu University and Nagasaki University. Kyushu University in turn acted as a counter to gather water, food and blanket from eight universities. They are Kyushu University, Saga University, Kagoshima University, Yamaguchi University, Kyushu Institute of Technology, University of Miyazaki, University of Yamanashi and Nara Institute of Science and Technology.  
※ In accordance with Kumamoto City’s policy to merge the shelters, all shelters in the university were closed on 8 May.
5. University Hospital
  • No casualties reported among the staff and patients.
  • Cracks on the connecting corridors; falling ceilings at the Outpatient Building as well as the Central Examination Building; and, malfunctions of elevator for medical use were observed.
  • These damages are now under temporal recovery. The recovery of elevator is estimated by the end of May.
  • During the period of water shortage, request was sent to the head quarters of emergency management of the Prefecture to secure water supply from the Self-Defense Forces for the purpose of dialysis and operation. 5 to 115 tons of water were delivered daily between 17 April and 25 April. Water supply resumed on 25 April.
  • Some seriously ill patients were received as an alternative to other hospitals that were unable to do so. Some of these patients were then transferred to hospitals in other prefecture after consideration and judgement made on their conditions. The hospital resume to its usual state at present.
  • As food supply was not sufficient for the staff, additional supply was obtained from three university hospitals, in the order of Kyushu University, Saga University, University of Miyazaki, as well as from universities, in the order of Nagasaki University, Oita University and Kagoshima University.
  • Except for the termination of consultation on 18 April, the Hospital has been operating as usual.
6. The Students
(1) Educational Support
  • Academic calendar was reviewed
  • Lectures were postponed until 6 May and resumed on 9 May.
  • Period for course registration was postponed accordingly from Wednesday, 21 April to Friday, 13 May.
  • The University Elementally School and Junior High School resumed classes on Monday, 9 May. The University Kindergarten and the University Special Support School resumed classes on Tuesday, 10 May.
(2)  Student support
  • Tuition fee exemption will be implemented for students living within the Disaster Relief Act area who cannot attend school as a result of their home financial situation being drastically affected by the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake. Application period is from Monday, 9 May to Friday, 20 May.
  • Account transfers for first semester tuition fees for the 2016 academic year, scheduled for Thursday 28 April, have been postponed to Friday 27 May.
  • The application period of scholarship and submission deadlines of related documents have been postponed.
  • Announcement of the student mental health consultation was made through posters and web page. Consultation is conducted at University Health Care Centre, Student Affairs Office and Student Counselling Office.
  • Plea statements were released on web page and media to seek special consideration from the human resource departments of companies towards the student job seekers who live in the disaster areas. 
  • Preparation was made to receive affected students into the Student Dormitory.
  • Deadline for application for transfer into the third year of Faculty of Engineering was extended. 
  • Fee for entrance tests for applicants who suffered Kumamoto Earthquake 2016 are waived. This applies to all entrance tests, beginning in May with the tests by Faculty of Engineering for third year transfer program.   
  • Student Affairs Department operate as usual despite the public holidays between 29 April and 8 May.
(3) Others
  • The planned Open Campus and Summer Program in August were cancelled. Many other events were cancelled or under consideration to be cancelled.
7.  Closing Remarks
Although aftershocks continue, we will continue to ensure the safety of the university, and consider and formulate the recovery plans regarding the education and research environment and facilities into short, mid and long term categories. Kumamoto University truly appreciates the kind assistance from other universities for the sending of staff and material support, as well as to MEXT and Japan Association of National Universities in coordinating the support. We also thank many parties who have contributed supports for speedy recovery of the university.