World rushes to Japan’s rescue
GENEVA WITH foreign teams helping local rescuers to seek survivors from Japan’s quake and tsunami, countries offered further aid from field hospitals to atomic physicists to address an unfolding nuclear crisis.
Firefighters, sniffer dogs, clothing and food have been proposed in an outpouring of solidarity with Japan, with offers pouring in from nearly 70 countries, UN officials said.
Even the poor southern Afghan city of Kandahar announced it was donating $50,000 to the “brothers and sisters” of Japan.
“I know $50,000 is not a lot of money for a country like Japan, but it is a show of appreciation from the Kandahar people,” city Mayor Ghulam Haidar Hamidi said.
Japan has promised $5 billion in aid to Afghanistan over the next five years, more than one-third of the total $13 billion in foreign aid pledged.
Japan fought to avert a meltdown at earthquake-crippled nuclear reactors, describing the massive quake and tsunami, which may have killed more than 10,000 people, as the nation’s biggest crisis since World War Two.
The United Nations said in a statement: “Rescue and relief operations are being hampered by continuous aftershocks, tsunami alerts and fires.
Many areas along the northeast coast remain isolated and unreachable.” A dozen countries have now deployed rescue teams following Japan’s request, including workers and dogs from Australia, China and the United States, the United Nations said.
Seven senior UN disaster relief officials arrived on Sunday to help coordinate aid.
“We all can see the scale of the devastation,” UN.
humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told Sky News.
A 15-member Chinese rescue team also arrived on Sunday, state news agency Xinhua said.
Australia offered self-contained field hospitals and disaster victim identification teams.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said his country had offered “field hospitals, whatever assistance we can extend”.
Britain sent fire brigade search and rescue specialists and equipment including heavy lifting and cutting equipment, and said it would send nuclear physicists if requested.
Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, said it had offered to help in responding to the accidents at Japanese nuclear plants if necessary.
Russia sent 75 rescuers on Sunday to work in quake-affected areas, the Emergencies Ministry said.
Japanese officials worked desperately to prevent the fuel rods in damaged atomic plants from overheating after radiation leaked into the air.
The government said a building housing a second reactor was at risk of exploding after a blast blew the roof off a different plant the day before.
But the World Health Organisation said the public health risk from the worst nuclear incident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 remained “quite low”.
Teams from Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) have reached Sendai, a town near the quake epicentre.
The group said the medical situation seemed under control, but there was little electricity and no water supply.
People needed food, blankets, and water.
Japan has asked Taiwan for material aid including generators, clothing and food, Taiwanese officials said.
Sri Lanka’s president’s office said $1 million and a military relief team with medical assistance was to be sent.