News / Asia

Japan's Strict Disaster Preparation Pays Off

Lives saved in historic tsunami thanks to early warning system, says relief agency

A resident cleans up tsunami debris in his destroyed house Tuesday, March 15, 2011, in Soma city, Fukushima prefecture, Japan.
A resident cleans up tsunami debris in his destroyed house Tuesday, March 15, 2011, in Soma city, Fukushima prefecture, Japan.

An international disaster assessment group says Japan’s preparedness for earthquakes and tsunamis saved lives, even though more than 3,000 people have been confirmed dead and thousands more are missing.

Japan has a long reputation of being the most well prepared nation to face earthquakes and tsunamis. Tough building codes, sea walls and local emergency warning systems all are in place.

But last Friday, faced with an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 - the strongest in Japan’s seismic history - preparations fell short to save all lives.

Asian Disaster Preparedness Center Program Manager Aslam Perwaiz says Japan was simply overwhelmed by natural forces. But the tsunami early warning systems in local communities saved many lives, says Perwaiz.

"The preparedness worked in Japan in this case. The only thing that did not work is understanding this much of intensity [of the disaster]. Otherwise, for example, they were well prepared for an earthquake and related tsunami of a magnitude 8.0/8.3 but between 8.3 and 9.0 that is a huge difference," he says.

Now Japan’s tragedy is complicated by fires and explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power station.

Concern about radioactive fall-out from the nuclear power stations that led to thousands being evacuated has added to the scale of the disaster, says Perwaiz.

"There will be a big health hazard. At one point of time, we have this problem of the immediate result of the tsunami. Then we have the problem of nuclear, compounding a big health hazard, if the response time is not completed within the month, which is an uphill task."

The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says nearly 416,300 people have been evacuated from the earthquake and tsunami affected provinces, with more than half from Miyagi Province.

The regional spokesperson for the U.N. agency, Kirsten Mildren, says people in the hard-hit areas face limited access to water and shelter, including evacuation centers.

UNOCHA spokesperson Kirsten Mildren.
UNOCHA spokesperson Kirsten Mildren.

"It is also winter in Japan right now, and so, without electricity, without proper heating, now the government has announced there is going to be power cuts," she says. " This is going to put an extreme amount of pressure on the people themselves, because it is literally freezing overnight."

Clean up and recovery will take a long time, says Mildren.

"Infrastructure has been devastated in this particular area, and this was luckily a rural area, but it certainly had a lot of manufacturing. So for Japan, the cleanup operation is going to be monumental," she says.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has ordered a shift toward humanitarian operations from immediate rescue activities to provide essential items to the affected areas.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
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 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 Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
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 Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
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.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid