The number of deaths related to the prolonged evacuation of residents in Fukushima has already exceeded the total of those directly caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of 2011 in the prefecture. As of November 30, there are already 1,605 deaths associated with the evacuation, two more than the 1,603 on record for the 2011 natural disasters.
The number is expected to rise as officials collate further data on the plight of the thousands of people who are still unable to go home due to radiation problems from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Cause of deaths include those who were unable to receive proper medical care in the aftermath of the disaster, which resulted in their deteriorating health or developing new illnesses, and those who developed mental illness due to the evacuation situation and then committed suicide.
There is no precedent or clear standards for evacuation-related deaths, as the country has not seen a situation like this before, with thousands of displaced residents, the length of time they’ve been away and the distance to which they were evacuated to. An official from the Tomioka government said that the situation is “getting more complicated” as they see more diversification. Kunihiro Fukutome, a researcher at Tohoku Institute of Technology, said that in this case of the evacuees, it is necessary not just to prevent illnesses or injuries but even more so to improve the living conditions of the people. “…Damage from the disaster is on a different scale from what we’ve seen in the past,” he said.
The number also exceeds the indirect deaths from the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, which recorded 919. With other prefectures that were strongly affected by the 2011 disasters, the number of indirect deaths is relatively low; 878 from Miyagi Prefecture and 428 in Iwate Prefecture.
[ via Mainichi ]