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Massive 9.0 Earthquake Hits Japan; Tsunami Creates Major Devastation

A massive earthquake hit Japan on Friday March 11, resulting in a tsunami that struck the Japanese coast as well as the shorelines of neighboring countries. The epicenter of the earthquake was off the coast of Honshu Japan and was approximately 15 miles below the surface of the Pacific ocean. Early reports indicate that the human casualities are estimated to be in the thousands.

Updated: April 15, 2011

An earthquake of magnitude 8.9 struck off the north east coast of Japan at 14:46 local time on Friday 11 March 2011 triggering a huge tsunami which struck the east coast of Japan. The official death-toll is now 13,456 people, and 14,851 are registered as missing presumed dead. 150,000 people are still displaced and are being sheltered in 2,400 evacuation centres.

In Japan, our local team responded immediately. A HF first responder team from Nagoya began by conducting a needs assessment and review of logistics and then took 3 trucks of food and water supplies to the affected area, initially working in Koriyama. After discussions with local authorities, they were given responsibility for the Iwagiri Junior High School evacuation centre in Sendai from where they were distributing hot food, water and blankets to 560-650 displaced people every day from March 14-19. They were assisted by 50 volunteers at the centre at various times marshaled by Mr. Yoshida, the school principal. At the same time, in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo, in part of the city of Ichikawa, HF staff provided hot food to neighbours on a daily basis for the first two weeks.

In the next phase, the team was asked to run the Minato Shogako evacuation centre in Ishinomaki since 26 March where they are providing two hot meals a day to 800 people. The team are also setting up a tea stall and a facility for children to play and learn, and expect to keep this facility running into July 2011.

The reaction to our work from the local people has been amazing. Mr Sata of Tokibo Corporation visited our camp and then donated a camper van to help with logistics. He commented: “It amazes me that Humanity First reached this hardest hit area so swiftly, I was worried that these people (of Ishinomaki) might not get proper relief but Humanity First have taken care of it. Thank you.”


HF have also recieved a lot of assistance and encouragement from the Army. Mr Kubo, captain of the Army regiment in Ishinomaki commented: “You have proved that you people (of Humanity first) have big hearts, none of the Japanese took this initiative, though we might be a big nation, we don't have hearts as big as you."

Since the start of the tragedy, the team has delivered around 40,000 hot meals, sanitary supplies and bottled water to the refugees.

A team of over 110 (including 56 in Japan) has been involved in this operation so far, liaising with the UN and authorities, arranging for supplies, raising funds and deployed to affected areas.

Updated: March 23, 2011

A HF first responder team of 5 from Nagoya began by assessing the needs and then took 3 trucks of food and water supplies to the affected area, initially working in Koriyama. After discussions with local authorities, they were given responsibility for the Iwagiri Junior High School evacuation centre in Sendai from where they were distributing hot food, water and blankets to 560-650 displaced people every day. They have been assisted by 50
volunteers at the centre at various times marshaled by Mr. Yoshida, the school principal.

Since then, the team has also assessed the town of Ishinomaki from where they report: "Only some of the buildings remain standing, houses were completely wiped out. Troops are still cleaning up dead bodies there. Our team suggest that the death-toll may surge up into tens of thousands. There is a danger of the breakout of diseases here."

At the same time, in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo, in part of the city of Ichikawa, out of 60 houses, only 4 still had water, and 3 of those belonged to HF volunteers. They have been providing hot food to neighbours on a daily basis.

 

Humanity First local team has also received a lot of local co-operation. A local businessman Mr Masaki Hasegwa lent his truck with a full tank of fuel and food supplies. The Japanese local authorities provided official passes to enable the team members to access fuel and to travel on the motorways whilst these are off limits to the general public who face fuel rationing. A local butcher in Sendai was so inspired by the relief work of HF team on
Friday that he donated 50kg of beef and so on Friday night, the team provided a beef curry to the evacuees. Also, executives from AucNet Inc, a used car auction company in Tokyo donated several thousand dollars towards HF relief work.

A team of over 110 (including 56 in Japan) has been involved in this operation so far, liaising with the UN and authorities, arranging for supplies, raising funds and deployed to affected areas.

Updated March 14, 2011

A small disaster response team in Japan from Nagoya have established a base camp in Sendai from where they will be distributing food, water and blankets for 1,000 of the displaced. The demand is for shelter, blankets, hot food and water, but HF is not sending medical teams at this stage unless requested.

There will be further updates as the situation becomes clearer. We request our supporters to donate to 'Disaster Relief Fund' to support Humanity First efforts across the Pacific region.

Updated: March 12, 2011

Humanity First team in Japan has assembled and dispatched a team of volunteers to Sendai, the town which has suffered the most damage as a result of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The team is carrying food items for distribution and will work to establish a soup/tea kitchen.

The weather is very cold and more snow is expected in the coming days.

Humanity First is monitoring reports from its contacts with the Japanese government to ascertain what is needed. Based on this feedback, HF will finalise its initial response strategy. Initial reports indicate the need for tents, blankets, and food items.

More information from the team is expected in few hours.

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Humanity First is registered in 43 countries across 6 continents, and has been working on human development projects and responding to disasters since 1994. These have included the earthquakes in Turkey, Pakistan, Japan and Iran, floods in Africa and Latin America, hurricanes (Katrina and Rita) , tornado's (Kansas) and wild fires (California) in the USA, Indonesia and Bangladesh, and conflicts in Eastern Europe.

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