The Yomiuri Shimbun (retr. 28 Mar 2011)
About 670,000 textbooks for the new school term, starting in April, have been lost or damaged in the March 11 tsunami, according to a survey conducted by the education ministry.
The textbooks were scheduled to be distributed to primary, middle and high school students in six prefectures, including Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima–areas seriously affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
Textbook publishers are considering printing additional volumes but will find it difficult to secure sufficient paper because some warehouses where paper was stored were destroyed during the disaster, the ministry said.
According to the tally by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, the number of schools that collapsed or were damaged March 11 amounted to nearly 2,000 in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures alone.
In addition to Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures, damage to textbooks has been confirmed in Aomori, Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures, the ministry said.
Of the 670,000 textbooks that were rendered useless, 320,000 belonged to Miyagi Prefecture. This represents about 13 percent of the 2.4 million textbooks originally scheduled to be distributed in that prefecture.
Iwate Prefecture accounted for 170,000 texts and Fukushima Prefecture for 140,000, about 12 percent and 7 percent, respectively, of the total books meant to be distributed.
The textbooks had been trucked to distributors in each prefecture before the earthquake occurred. Most are believed to have been damaged or lost before they were distributed to schools.
Textbook publishers are required by law to supply textbooks before the start of a new school year.
More than 1,000 children have died or gone missing. Municipally run Okawa Primary School in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, was swallowed entirely by tsunami, and of its 108 pupils, only 30 percent have been confirmed safe. Also, many children in stricken areas have lost their parents.
About 670,000 textbooks for the new academic year, starting in April, were lost or damaged and cannot be used.
School buildings and gymnasiums that survived the earthquake and tsunami are being used as evacuation centers. Evacuees likely will have to endure the inconvenience of life in such shelters for an extended period, as it will take some time to build temporary housing units. ..
Securing places of learning ahead of the new school term starting in April will be no easy task. Temporary buildings will have to be erected on school grounds or classrooms used at other schools. Another possibility would be to use school buildings left idle due to the abolition and integration of schools.
Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures are calling for an increase in the number of teachers and for the dispatch of counselors. It is important now to provide sensitive, attentive care for each child. …
Its passengers, five children aged 4 to 6 attending Hiyori Kindergarten in Ishinomaki, never made it home.
On that fateful day, the bus was scheduled to leave the kindergarten at 2:51 p.m. The driver, however, waited until the strong jolts subsided. With 12 children on board, the bus left the center and headed for the children’s homes located in a residential enclave near Ishinomaki Port, according to the head of the kindergarten.
After dropping off seven children, the driver saw the tsunami approaching. He tried to head back to Hiyori Kindergarten located on higher ground.
But the tsunami quickly swallowed up the bus, which then became engulfed in flames after gasoline leaking from a gas station nearby ignited.
The children’s bodies were later recovered either inside or close to the bus once floodwaters had receded.
Amazingly, the driver narrowly escaped death. He lost consciousness during the tsunami, but said when he came to he found himself sprawled on the roof of a building.
Ishinomaki residents have since been paying their respects at the bus site, offering flowers, water, chocolates and other snacks. Kindergarten officials have offered incense every morning.
Sadly, the tragedy was not a one-off incident. Elsewhere in the prefecture, in Yamamotocho, the tsunami engulfed another two kindergarten buses, killing a further seven children.