Junior high school students from a quake-hit central Japan city said teary goodbyes to their families on Wednesday and headed some 100 kilometers away to community facilities where they will continue their studies.

Some 250 of the roughly 400 students from all three Wajima city-run junior high schools have opted to temporarily relocate together as their schools are either damaged or being used as evacuation centers after a magnitude-7.6 quake struck the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast on New Year's Day.

Parents were seen telling their children to, "Text me, OK?" and "Eat your vegetables" as students gathered at a roadside bus station with their luggage ahead of their journey to the city of Hakusan in the prefecture's south.

Parents wave to their junior high school-age children at a bus terminal in Wajima in Ishikawa Prefecture on Jan. 17, 2024, as they temporarily evacuate to another city following a strong earthquake in the central Japan prefecture on Jan. 1. About 250 of around 400 students at three junior high schools in Wajima will stay in temporary accommodation in Hakusan, about 100 kilometers south of Wajima, to study while their parents remain in Wajima. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The students, some from Wajima Junior High School, are being taken to the two community facilities where they will both temporarily reside and study. They are expected to remain there for up to two months until the end of the academic year.

A Wajima official said the city aims to "follow the original curriculum as much as possible," but the details of what traveling teachers will be able to include have yet to be hashed out.

What will happen to the roughly 150 students remaining in Wajima is also undecided.

The city said all students need learning opportunities, adding it will be flexible with those who wish to return from Hakusan earlier.

Junior high school students wave to their families from a bus in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Jan. 17, 2023, as they leave their badly damaged hometown to study some 100 kilometers away after a powerful earthquake hit the central Japan prefecture. (Kyodo) 

As of Wednesday, 20 of the prefecture's 281 public elementary and junior high schools had not reopened as they were either damaged or were being used as evacuation facilities, according to the Ishikawa Prefectural Board of Education.

Although it is uncommon for students to separate from their families to continue their studies at times of large-scale disasters, around 140 students from the quake-hit municipalities of Suzu and Noto are also set to move to a facility in Kanazawa on Sunday, Ishikawa Gov. Hiroshi Hase said.

Photo taken on Jan. 16, 2024, shows an accommodation facility in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, to which junior high school students from quake-hit Wajima in the same prefecture will evacuate to continue their studies following a strong earthquake in central Japan's Noto Peninsula area on Jan. 1. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

In 2000, when the entire population of Miyake, an island in the Izu island chain south of Tokyo, was evacuated due to a volcanic eruption, around 360 students were relocated to a school with dormitory facilities in western Tokyo.

The death toll from the massive earthquake rose to 232 people as of Wednesday, including 10 whose bodies were found in the rubble of Wajima's marketplace, gutted by a major blaze that broke out following the quake.

The U.S. military joined Japan's relief efforts on Wednesday, with an army helicopter carrying foods and sanitary products arriving at an airport in Wajima from Japanese Air Self-Defense Force's Komatsu Air Base. Some 30 SDF members received the supplies for transportation to those in need.

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