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Destroyed Japanese roads hamper aid

Japan faces a massive effort to rebuild transport networks after more than 700 roads were damaged following the 9.0 magnitude earthquake on 11 March.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the damage to infrastructure in the country was “significant”.

The Japanese National Police Agency said that across the 17 quake and tsunami hit authorities, known as prefectures, 704 roads have been damaged, 26 bridges and eight railways. There have also been 26 landslips.

The worst hit in terms of infrastructure damage is the Chiba local authority in the south east of the country, where estimates are that 278 roads have been damaged, and that there has also been damage to a railway line, and 11 landslips have taken place.

The Japan Society of Civil Engineers told NCE that lack of access using roads is causing difficulty across the country, including to the port town of Minamisanriku, which has been decimated by the tsunami that followed the earthquake.

“Rebuilding Japan’s infrastructure will be a massive issue. This is where people start to see the importance of infrastructure within an economy”

Peter Hansford, ICE

The latest estimate is that 785 people died in Miyagi province containing the town, with 1,106 people still missing. At least 12 roads and one bridge have been damaged in the prefecture. Helicopters have been used to attempt to reach Minamisanriku.

The capital of the region, Sendai, has also been affected, with the city’s airport being closed due to the damage.
High levels of damage have also been caused in the city of Rikuzentakata, on the north east coast. The latest information is that more than 600 people are thought to have died, with a further 315 missing in the Iwate prefecture which includes the city. Twenty-six roads have been damaged in region.

The biggest damage to railway lines has occurred in the Tochigi region, where there are both high speed lines and conventional railways connecting to Tokyo for commuters. As many as seven lines have been damaged in the region, as have 292 roads.

The Yamagata province has seen the highest number of landslides − 26 − local police say.

Following the earthquake, rail transport in Tokyo was halted, leaving an estimated 10M daily travellers with no means of transportation. The city’s subway was closed to be assessed for damage, but has now reopened.

“Rebuilding Japan’s infrastructure will be a massive issue. This is where people start to see the importance of infrastructure within an economy,” added ICE President Peter Hansford.

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