A World Vision Japan assessment team has arrived in the earthquake-affected area of Sendai in north-east Japan. The assessment team includes veteran aid worker Kenjiro Ban, who was part of World Vision's earthquake response in Haiti.
The normally 4 hour trip from Tokyo to Sendai in the Miyagi prefecture took more than 10 hours, with the main highway closed to regular traffic. Small back roads were travelled and rationed fuel was only available to aid organisations and rescue teams.
“We are here on the outskirts of Sendai, about 10-15kilometres from the downtown area, an area called Arahama. This is the most severely hit area by the tsunami. Rice paddies are covered by sea water, and big trees have been flushed away. There is total devastation. There is no one here, it is silent,”said Kenjiro Ban.
Staff will assess the needs in affected areas and prepare supplies and programs to serve those left homeless by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Initial relief supplies the team carried with them include basic child food supplies and clothing supplies.
Once needs are identified, relief supplies can be distributed. Establishment of Child Friendly Spaces is a possibility, in order to address children’spsycho-social needs.
“We’re planning to see how deep the needs are in the affected areas and begin to bring relief to families. We've seen in Haiti, Chile, and other recent disasters that Child-Friendly Spaces can be a key way to address the unique needs of children who survived but are deeply affected by the experience”.
World Vision Japan’s Humanitarian Emergency Affairs Manager, Kenjiro Ban is also co-ordinating with local authorities and other aid agencies.
The death toll is expected to exceed 10,000 in Sendai according to local police with at least 1,800 people confirmed dead. Some 100,000 Japanese national defence personnel have been deployed to assist, with 250,000 local police and relief and rescue workers sent to assist too.
Japan’s Prime Minister, Mr Naoto Kan has declared a State of Emergency and a nuclear emergency has been declared in Fukushima in the north-east.
More than 200,000 people have been evacuated near two nuclear plants in Fukushima and exclusion zones have been established, following an explosion at one nuclear plant. A third nuclear plant at Onagawa has also been declared an emergency situation.
The earthquake was reported as the most powerful on record in Japan. The‘Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923’ killed 143,000 people and the Kobe Earthquake of 1995 killed 6,400 people.