I don’t really know how to start this post. I think the events in Japan over the last week have left everyone a little bit shell shocked. To see such devastation to communities is terrible and I’m sure everyone would agree.
To explain myself a little bit more on the 11th March a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded and now referred to as the Great Tohoku Earthquake (USGS), hit Japan’s eastern coast. The earthquake was felt by many villages and cities along a 1,300 mile stretch of coastline and violent tremors reached as far away as Tokyo and led to many areas on fire.
The force of the earthquake triggered a seven meter tsunami killing thousands of people within coastal communities in and around the port city of Sendai. Images from this awful disaster show boats, cars and even homes being swept away. A tsunami warning was later put in place for the north and south pacific. Since then the Japanese National Police Agency has officially confirmed approximately 1900 deaths, 1880 injuries and around 3000 people are missing and it is expected that this will continue to rise.
And if this wasn’t enough, the somewhat 50 aftershocks which were all large enough in themselves to cause devastation, many more than magnitude 6.0, damaged a nuclear power station leading to mass evacuation for fear of possible radiation contamination. The Huffington Post reported that “the Government ordered thousands of residents near a nuclear power plant in Onahama city to move back at least two miles from the plant. The reactor was not leaking radiation but its core remained hot even after a shutdown”. This zone has since been extended to a 12 mile evacuation zone around the facility and approximately 140,000 people living between 12 miles and 19 miles of the facility were told not to leave their homes.
The country is now in short supply of food, water and fuel in some parts of Japan and large areas of the country are still without power and they need our collective help to get through this ordeal.
The Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, has recently called on his country to unite and rebuild as it struggles to cope with the devastation caused by the quake and tsunami. He says Japan is now facing its worst crisis since World War II.
According to the BBC’s Chris Hogg in Toyko “the disaster could yet turn out to be one of the most costly in human history, second only to Hurricane Katrina six years ago”.
I concur with the Huffington Post who suggest that “even for a country used to earthquakes, this one was of horrific proportions because of the tsunami that crashed ashore, swallowing everything in its path. The apocalyptic images of surging water and uncontrolled conflagrations broadcast by Japanese TV networks resembled scenes from a Hollywood disaster movie.”
The UK Government have sent a UK International Search and Rescue (ISAR) team into the disaster zone to join the search for survivors along with American search and rescue teams.
If you want to help the people affected by this disaster a number of charities including Save the Children and The British Red Cross have launched UK appeals. Save the Children has launched an appeal for £1m to help support and protect the children of Japan in the wake of the disaster and The British Red Cross has also has launched a UK appeal on behalf of the Japanese Red Cross which has been on the ground since the disaster began.
The Japanese Red Cross has been working on the ground since the disaster providing first aid and healthcare and assessing the damage and needs of the communities affected. The Japanese Red Cross have agreed to accept donations from the British Red Cross and as such money will be used to distribute things like blankets to the affected areas.
For a country such as Japan, who are well trained and prepared in earthquake resilience and preparedness measures, a huge majority of the damage was at the result of the tsunami. Very few buildings were badly damaged by the ground shaking because of their engineering resilient structures. A lot of the footage which has been shown over the past few days shows people immediately putting hard hats on and moving away from buildings to areas of open space, however, it was the unprecedented force and severity of the tsunami which has left this country in devastation. This is why they need our help more than ever!
Check out their websites and find out what you can do and most importantly spread the word…