Japan struggling amid food, water shortages, radiation leak

by
March 15, 2011

TOKYO, March 15 (Xinhua) — Tens of thousands of Japanese and foreign workers are racing against time to rescue survivors four days after the historic 9.0-magnitude earthquake devastated northeast Japan and an ensuing tsunami engulfed many coastal cities in the region.

The Japanese government has sent 100,000 troops to lead the aid effort. It has sent 120,000 blankets, 120,000 bottles of water and 110,000 liters of gasoline plus food to the affected areas.

The Japan Self Defense Forces, firemen, and police from all over the country were mobilized to search for survivors and dig out bodies.

“We are still focusing on searching for the survivors,” said Wataru Suzuki, a fireman from the fire department of Osaki, Miyagi prefecture. He said it is hopelessly difficult as there are too many missing people.

The firemen used hand picks and chain saws to clear away mounds of broken timber, plastic sheets, roofs, sludge, twisted cars, tangled power-lines and household goods. Meanwhile, ambulances were on standby, and helicopters were patrolling the area.

A 15-member Chinese international search and rescue team Monday morning set out to join the relief work in Ofunato, Iwate, a densely populated coastal city severely hit by the earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

The Chinese team is one of the first overseas groups to join and help out with relief work in the city. Team leader Yin Guanghui said they have brought along life exploration devices and other equipment to help with the rescue.

By Monday, food supplies were shipped to four shelters in Minamisanryuku, Miyagi prefecture, reaching at least 3,000 people.

However, electricity will take days to restore. From Iwate to Fukushima, power supplies were still limited to a small urban area. Telecommunications were impossible in Minamisanryuku, Kesennuma or other seriously-hit coastal areas. Cars queued for hours to get gasoline.

According to public broadcaster NHK, some 430,000 people are living in emergency shelters and another 24,000 people are stranded. As rescue workers are struggling to reach the victims, it was estimated that millions of people were spending a fourth night Monday without water, food or heat in the cold northeastern region.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a Monday morning meeting of the government disaster headquarters that emergency workers have so far rescued 15,000 survivors.

Police said the total death toll has reached 2,414 and 3,118 were missing as of 8:00 a.m. (2300 GMT Monday).

To read more, visit: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-03/15/c_13780054.htm

 

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