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Japan: Red Cross helps quake and tsunami survivors

17 March 2011

Houses on fire surrounded by tsunami water© InfoJapanese Red Cross workers are treating the injured, providing psychological support and distributing relief items in the aftermath of a massive earthquake which hit Japan on 11 March.

The earthquake, measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale, triggered a tsunami which hit the east coast of Japan with 7-metre-high waves. More than 4,300 people are confirmed dead and many more are injured. The death toll is expected to rise to around 10,000.

With thousands still missing, search and rescue remains a priority. On 12 March, the British Red Cross launched the Japan Tsunami Appeal to support the Japanese Red Cross disaster response operation.

Red Cross response

So far, the Japanese Red Cross has deployed 115 national disaster response teams, with more than 730 staff members, including doctors and nurses.

Sir Nick Young, British Red Cross chief executive, said: “Our supporters have responded to this situation with huge generosity and solidarity in their donations to the Japan Tsunami Appeal. We are extremely grateful for and humbled by their support. Thank you to everyone who has given.

“The costs of the relief effort, and of rebuilding the homes and lives of those affected, will be immense.  Donations to the British Red Cross will be used towards helping the Japanese people recover from this devastating natural disaster over the coming months and years.”

Challenging situation

More than 4,600 houses were totally destroyed and around 68,000 were damaged as a result of the earthquake and tsunami. Some 440,000 people have been evacuated or displaced and the Japanese government has opened around 2,500 evacuation centres.

The Japanese Red Cross has more than two million registered volunteers, many with specialist training. Volunteers are providing psychological and practical support to displaced people and providing medical transportation. They are offering people hot meals and distributing relief items, including more than 76,000 blankets.

The Red Cross specialist helicopter team has evacuated people from rooftops and is assisting with the logistics of transporting medicine and food to hospitals. The majority of patients being treated by Red Cross medical teams are elderly people, who may have conditions such as hypertension or diabetes, as well as ailments resulting from the tsunami such as hypothermia and pneumonia.

As concerns mount about radiation leaks from nuclear power plants in Fukushima, Red Cross staff and volunteers are helping care for the thousands of people evacuated from the 20-kilometre exclusion zone surrounding the affected plants.

Restoring family links

Thousands of people in Japan and elsewhere have lost contact with family members because of the earthquake and tsunami.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, working closely with the Japanese Red Cross, has launched a special family links website to help people seeking to re-establish contact with family members and friends.

People in Japan and abroad can register on the website to inform their family and friends that they are safe and provide their current contact details, while those looking for people can check the list for information. They can also register the names of family members and friends, encouraging them to get in touch.

In the event that we receive more donations to the Japan Tsunami Appeal than the Japanese Red Cross and International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement can reasonably and efficiently spend, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to humanitarian disasters both here in the UK and overseas.

Find out more about our emergency response

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