Saturday, March 12, 2011

200,000+ displaced so far in Japan quake, tsunami -- Sendai annhilated

Tens of thousands of Self-Defense Forces searched desperately for survivors in earthquake-ravaged northern Japan on Saturday as rescue and relief efforts went into full force, even as concerns rose that a radiation leak may have occurred at a nuclear-power facility in the country.

More than 200,000 Japanese were ferried to relief shelters and millions of homes were left without power and water after the country's most powerful quake ever struck on Friday.

Rescue efforts accelerated as police, fire department and defense forces deployed to severely affected areas. Low-flying government rescue helicopters, including Japanese Self Defense Force Blackhawks, hovered low over houses with roof tiles ripped asunder, looking for survivors. Further up the coast toward Sendai, entire roads and bridges were washed away. A few cars could be seen carefully navigating twisted and sand-strewn roads in an apparent attempt to flee, or survey the damage to their communities. No more than a handful of pedestrians could be seen for hundreds of miles up the coast.

An estimated 3,400 buildings have been partially or completely destroyed. In Sukagawa, a small town located in Fukushima Prefecture, about 200 people stood in line to receive water supplies through the night at an emergency distribution center, and water was rationed to a maximum of about 2.6 gallons per household. A team of rescue workers from Singapore arrived in Tokyo on Saturday afternoon, bound for Fukushima Prefectutre, Japan's foreign ministry said.

"Power is cut in some parts of town, but what we need is water and food," said Dai Iwaya, a 37-year old city project and fiscal planning officer. Homes are in various states of disrepair, with fallen roof shingles and concrete blocks strewn about. (read more)