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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid