TOKYO, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) is continuing to grapple with blackouts near Tokyo in the wake of Typhoon Faxai which struck the region more than a week ago, saying Tuesday it may take until the end of the month to fully restore power.
According to the power company, also the operator of the still-stricken Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, more than 67,000 households are still without electricity in Chiba Prefecture and other affected areas. TEPCO said it could take until Sept. 27 to fully restore power to the grid.
Adding to the residents' woes in affected areas, who are already contending with sweltering heat and chillier autumnal temperatures and intermittent downpours, TEPCO has said that when power is restored, there is a risk of fires breaking out.
This is as a result of damage caused to electric wires and residents, including seniors well into their 90s, are being asked to take matters into their own hands by switching off circuit breakers when leaving home.
Residents have been forced to suffer with the longest power outage since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, while TEPCO came under heavy fire from central and prefectural government officials for failing to step up work efforts.
In addition, the utility has been lambasted for giving an overly optimistic view of their ability to deal with the crisis.
TEPCO initially said that it hoped to restore power to areas suffering from blackouts on Sept. 11.
TEPCO's failings have been punctuated further by some residents in affected areas still suffering without water supply.
According to local municipal officials, around 10,000 homes are still without running water.
Such is the severity of conditions, that while some schools have reopened for lessons since Friday when 100 schools remained closed, some elementary and junior high school students are requiring counseling for reasons including sleep deprivation and insomnia.
This is due to both the physiological and psychological effects of the crisis, including a lack of air-conditioning in sweltering conditions and the inability to take regular showers or baths because of water supply outage.
Mental trauma among children has also been exacerbated by affected areas still looking like war zones, as cleanup efforts have been sluggish due to bad weather, school counselors have said.
Japan's industry minister Isshu Sugawara told a press briefing on Tuesday that power is expected to be restored almost completely by Sept. 27, while Finance Minister Taro Aso said the government will allocate 1.32 billion yen (12 million U.S. dollars) to help finance recovery efforts.
Faxai, the season's 15th typhoon and the ninth to make landfall in Chiba since record keeping began, wreaked havoc on the Tokyo metropolitan area after making landfall east of Tokyo on Sept. 9, killing at least three people and causing major disruption to transportation networks.