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Rain Raises Fears Of Landslides, Sickness, Adds to Misery

January 23, 1995

KOBE, Japan (AP) _ Signs of psychological stress, frustration, and a breakdown in the social order for which Japanese society is renowned emerged Sunday among the thousands of survivors of Japan’s deadliest quake in over seven decades. The death toll neared 5,000.

At the Kansai Rosai Hospital in nearby Amagasaki, doctors said many patients were having difficulty breathing at night _ a symptom doctors said is common among those suffering delayed stress syndrome.

``The people think we’ll have another big quake,″ taxi driver Yoshikazu Morimoto said. ``Most are very afraid another big one will come. Many people are leaving, and many of them have lost their jobs″ because businesses were destroyed.

For the first time, merchants are complaining about thefts, and on Sunday many of them organized a neighborhood watch system to guard against nighttime pilfering from their shops.

As of Monday morning, six days after the 7.2-magnitude quake, Japanese national police said the death toll had risen to 4,984 with 166 still missing. Nearly 26,000 have been injured.

A strong aftershock shook Kobe overnight, and another hit just before dawn. There were no reports of damage or injury. Both aftershocks measured 4 on the Japanese 7-point intensity scale. Tuesday’s devastating quake measured 7 on that scale.

Doug Copp of the American Rescue Team based in San Francisco said there was a ``good possibility″ that more survivors could still be found under the ruins.

Frustration over the government’s relief operation boiled over into open hostility Sunday during a live, nationally televised hookup between government officials and survivors.

``You should have told us or showed us what we could do in such a bad situation,″ barked one man, abandoning the honorific style of speech which Japanese ordinarily use in addressing leaders.

A teacher noted that volunteers had gone to Kobe by foot to help survivors. ``Why can’t officials do the same?″ she asked. A high school student told Chief Cabinet Secretary Kozo Igarashi: ``I want you guys to do something, not as politicians but as human beings, as soon as possible.″

Such public comments are rare in a culture that emphasizes respect for leaders. ``We want people to believe us,″ Igarashi pleaded. ``We are doing our best as human beings.″

Criticism also came from the political opposition. Former Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata, deputy leader of the New Frontier Party, said in a speech in northern Japan that lives were lost because the government had no plan ``to protect public safety and property when a natural calamity like an earthquake occurs.″

As a sign of the dangers facing this once vibrant port city, three people were trapped Sunday when a quake-damaged building collapsed, blocking the entrance to their home. Rescuers carried them to safety.

Heavy rains fell throughout the day. Helicopters flying in relief supplies were grounded, and the search for 30 people missing in nearby Nishinomiya had to be called off for fear of mudslides. Local television Monday reported 103 landslides had occurred.

The chilly rain, which had cleared Monday, worsened the already horrific conditions for the nearly 300,000 people left homeless by the quake. Almost 52,000 buildings, many of them homes, were damaged or destroyed.

Virtually all of the 1.4 million Kobe residents lack natural gas for heating, and the Osaka Gas Co. said it could take six weeks to restore service. More than half the city’s households still lack running water.

``We just need a bathroom,″ Mun Wah Soon, a Korean, as she puttered about the tent where she and her husband live with about 20 others. ``There’s no water. We can’t wash anything. Without a bathroom, it’s very bad.″

Japan is prone to earthquakes. A 4.6-magnitude quake shook central Japan, about 250 miles northeast of Kobe, on Sunday. There were no reports of damage or casualties.

Helmeted workers fanned out across Kobe on Sunday to distribute about 200,000 plastic sheets to cover damaged roofs or build the makeshift shelters that have gone up in sports fields, parks and vacant lots.

A team of 74 U.S. Marines from the 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa set up about 20 tents at several locations throughout the city. Each tent can acommodate about 25 people.

``It felt real good to get off the island and do our part to help out,″ said Gunnery Sgt. Stephen Ruvio, 39, of Brooklyn. ``We could probably do more if they’d allow us to.″

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