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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid