Emergency Team Assessing Needs, Disaster Relief Expert on Way to Japan

Photo courtesy of REUTERS/KYODO KYODO, www.AlertNet.org
Natural gas storage tanks burn at a facility in Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/KYODO KYODO, www.AlertNet.org

The death toll in Japan continues to rise with fatality reports rapidly approaching 1,000, hundreds injured and many more missing as relief efforts are mounted in Japan and from other countries.  

Japanese officials and national disaster relief teams are confronting the catastrophic damage from a record 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck northern Japan early Friday, unleashing a deadly tsunami and causing major destruction along coastal towns.

AmeriCares emergency team is rapidly mobilizing resources, and a disaster relief expert who previously coordinated the organization's relief efforts following the Chile earthquake in 2010 is en route to the region to assess medical needs. 

Early information from our contacts in the northern region is being used to evaluate damage to medical facilities and determine urgent areas of emergency assistance. AmeriCares is prepared to send medicines, medical supplies and humanitarian aid as necessary.     

The earthquake and tsunami struck in tandem causing structural damage to homes, office buildings, factories, power plants and highways.  Nuclear power plants in the region have automatically shut down with one plant suffering damage to its cooling system. 

Thousands of residents in a two-mile radius of the Fukushima nuclear plant about 170 miles north of Tokyo have been evacuated as the government declared a state of emergency.  An explosion has been reported at the plant, and attempts are being made to contain the damage to the facility.

This is the fifth largest earthquake ever recorded, and it is the largest in Japan’s recorded history.  AmeriCares will coordinate its response with the Japanese government and its centralized disaster management agencies.  We are connecting with local partners to identify available medicines and medical supplies.

In 1995, AmeriCares responded to the Kobe earthquake in Japan, delivering 400,000 pounds of medicines and medical supplies, while helping locally to supply temporary structures for shelter and mobile care.  In a single day, 300,000 were homeless, 15,000 injured and 5,000 lost their lives in a major disaster that affected one of Japan’s leading industrial cities. 

For more than 25 years AmeriCares has provided medical relief and humanitarian assistance to millions affected by natural disasters and man-made crises around the world.  Wherever people are in desperate need, we are there.