Photo/IllutrationA red paper meaning "unsafe” is pasted on a damaged house in Mashiki, Kumamoto Prefecture, on April 24. The name on the paper is blurred. (Kenta Sujino)

KUMAMOTO--More than 4,000 of the houses damaged in the series of earthquakes were assessed as "unsafe" in seven hard-hit municipalities in Kumamoto Prefecture as of April 23, the Kumamoto prefectural government announced on April 24.

The preliminary figure of 4,062 is the fourth largest in recent decades following an estimated 12,000 in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, 6,476 in the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and 5,243 in the 2004 Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake.

In the survey conducted from April 15-23, the prefectural government dispatched to the seven municipalities 1,200 inspectors who are licensed architects and are registered as examiners by the prefectural government.

The inspectors checked a total of 11,300 houses that were damaged by the earthquakes. They numbered 5,041 in the city of Kumamoto, 5,162 in Mashiki, 567 in Nishihara, 236 in Mifune, 52 in Kikuyo, 86 in Uto and 156 in Minami-Aso.

After the inspections, the examiners classified the houses into three categories of “unsafe” (red), “limited entry” (yellow) and “inspected” (green), which means the house passed inspection.

A total of 4,062 houses, or 35 percent, were judged to be “red,” and 3,500 houses, or 30 percent, were assessed as “yellow.”

Nishihara marked the highest ratio of red at 69 percent, or 392 houses, followed by 55 percent, or 86 houses, in Minami-Aso and 49 percent, or 117 houses, in Mifune. In Mashiki, 48 percent of the houses inspected were assessed as red, or 2,515 houses.

The prefectural government plans to dispatch inspectors to houses in other municipalities if requested.