Airline resumes flights to quake-hit airport in central Japan

All Nippon Airways resumed its flights to and from an airport in central Japan on Saturday, almost a month after a magnitude-7.6 earthquake hit the region on New Year's Day and left its runway damaged.

While regular flights connecting Noto airport in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, and Tokyo's Haneda airport are limited to one round-trip per day on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through February, it is hoped they will help bring volunteer workers to quake-hit areas to assist their recovery from the disaster, which left more than 230 dead.

Before the quake struck the Noto Peninsula on the Sea of Japan coast, there were two round-trip flights between the two airports each day. But the airport was forced to suspend services after it found a gap measuring 10 centimeters in depth and 10 meters in length on a runway following the quake.

After temporary repairs were made, the airport started accepting Self-Defense Forces aircraft on Jan. 11 and decided to widen the service to commercial flights as it completed full restoration work.

Also on Saturday, some 80 registered volunteer workers entered Nanao, Shika and Anamizu in the prefecture to join cleanup efforts.

Landslides and cracks had severed roads leading to the quake-hit area, and local governments were not ready to accept them until now.

As the Ishikawa prefectural government had been asking individuals to refrain from coming to the quake-hit area, those eligible for volunteer work had been limited to people who belonged to organizations with disaster relief knowledge and experience.

© Kyodo News