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Quake-hit schools still to reopen

Aid organisations have warned that thousands of children in Japan are still unable to return to school a month after the tsunami - as many of their classrooms are still full of people left homeless following the disaster.

Save the Children said 160,000 people have been displaced and have nowhere to go after the 9.0-magnitude quake triggered the destructive waves that hit Japan's north-east coast.

Stephen McDonald, the charity's emergency response leader in Japan, said: "Children have already been through a lot in the past couple of weeks and normally the start of April would be an exciting time for them as they plan to start a new school year.

"But almost 7,000 schools have been damaged by the tsunami and around 286 are currently being used as evacuation centres rather than places of learning.

"Getting children back to school is a positive step in helping them recover. The children I've met just can't wait to get back to school and get on with their lives."

The charity met with teachers in the affected coastal areas of the country, who said the devastation caused by the tsunami was so extensive that it could take weeks to reopen schools in the area.

Yukio Goto, the headmaster of Shizugawa Elementary School in Minimisanriku, said: "I want to reopen the school as soon as possible, to get these kids back to some sort of normality.

"We had 450 students here before the tsunami, but now we are anticipating taking in up to 1,500 to 2,000 children because their schools have been destroyed. We need help to cater for that sort of increase."


From Belfast Telegraph