News / Asia

Relief Efforts Coming Up Short for Japan Disaster Victims

People shop for food from almost empty shelves at a big-box supermarket in Tokyo. Supermarket shelves are running empty despite authorities assuring citizens there is no need to panic from the crisis unfolding at a quake-stricken nuclear power plant, Marc
People shop for food from almost empty shelves at a big-box supermarket in Tokyo. Supermarket shelves are running empty despite authorities assuring citizens there is no need to panic from the crisis unfolding at a quake-stricken nuclear power plant, Marc

Fuel shortages, power outages and freezing weather have hobbled relief efforts in Japan, as hope fades for finding any more survivors in the wreckage of last week's earthquake and tsunami.

The death count is rising as rescuers gradually make their way into other communities that have been cut off since the quake because of heavy damage to roads, ports and other infrastructure.  By midday Thursday, the national police put the toll at more than 5,300 dead and more than 9,300 missing.  Japanese media said more than 20,000 others are known to be trapped and awaiting rescue.

But the delays have already been costly.  Members of a U.S. rescue team working in one coastal city said Thursday they have not found anyone alive.

Conditions are also deteriorating in shelters across the country's northeast, where nearly half a million people are taking refuge.  Agriculture ministry officials said they are unable to get ample supplies to the shelters because of gasoline shortages and damage to infrastructure.

The officials said one and a quarter million meals and almost three-quarters of a million beverage bottles were sent out to five affected provinces between Saturday and Tuesday, but that was far short of the needs.

U.S. naval forces operating off of Japan's east coast said snow and poor visibility limited helicopter operations to deliver food and water to relief sites.  Members of the military have also been ordered to stay away from areas within 80 kilometers of the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, due to highest radiation levels.

Thousands of people have been evacuated from the area near the crippled nuclear facility, but those in shelters nearby say they have not received supplies because relief workers refuse to come to the area for fear of radiation.  Local media report 14 patients at a hospital in Fukushima died after being moved to a shelter.

Supplies of heating fuel are also low at many of the shelters, where earthquake victims have had to cope with several nights of sub-freezing temperatures. Tens of thousands of homes have been damaged and whole communities have been washed away, leaving many with nowhere else to go.

In the coastal city of Ofunato, where several international rescue teams have been searching for survivors,  the head of a U.S. team reported that the temperature Wednesday evening was minus-5 Celsius and more than eight centimeters of snow had fallen.

He said U.S., British and Japanese teams working in the city had divided the area into grids to facilitate a more systematic search, but that no survivors have been found. The chances of finding live survivors drop dramatically a week after a disaster like last week's earthquake.


Death toll


Traffic jams

Chilly weather

Some information for this report was provided by AFP..

You May Like

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid