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 Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs