Tokyo: Japan has opened the doors of Kumamoto Prison to hundreds of people made homeless by two deadly earthquakes in the southwestern island of Kyushu.
The area was hit by the major earthquakes starting last Thursday, leaving 44 people dead and more than 1,000 injured.
Residents were forced to abandon their destroyed homes and stay in temporary accommodation, with some families even sleeping in their cars.
More than 600 tremors have also rocked the area. At least 117,000 people were moved to official evacuation shelters, but many more families had to take other options due to the shortage of safe housing.
The country’s Justice Ministry official Koichi Shima said that around 250 people were being housed in the martial arts training hall of Kumamoto’s correctional facility, a prison which holds 500 inmates.
The ministry began using prisons as evacuation centers following the Fukushima tsunami in 2011 which killed 18,500 people and led to the disastrous meltdown of the city’s nuclear power plant.
The prison has been largely unaffected by the quakes and still has a steady supply of water and electricity as well as a fully-functioning back-up power generator.