News / Asia

    UN Search and Rescue Experts Ready To Go To Japan

    Fishing boats are swept by a tsunami in Oarai City in Ibaragi Prefecture, northeastern Japan March 11, 2011
    Fishing boats are swept by a tsunami in Oarai City in Ibaragi Prefecture, northeastern Japan March 11, 2011
    Lisa Schlein

    The United Nations says it is ready to send expert teams to Japan to assist in search and rescue efforts in the wake of the massive tsunami that struck the northeastern part of Japan early Friday morning.  The U.N. reports their experts are in direct contact with directors of disaster relief teams in Japan.  

    A U.N. spokeswoman, Elizabeth Byrs, says 35 international search and rescue teams are on alert.  She says they are monitoring the situation and stand ready to assist.

    “They are on standby, they are on alert and ready to go, should Japan request," said Byrs. "But so far, this is the usual process, there is no U.N. team deployed.”  

    Byrs says the United Nations draws its experts from a network of search and rescue teams in 80 countries.  As soon as emergency help is requested, she says the U.N. immediately sends the teams that are closest to the disaster.

    In the meantime, the International Red Cross Federation says evacuations have been successfully carried out in countries considered to be particularly vulnerable.  They include the Philippines, Pacific Island States and Papua New Guinea.

    The Red Cross previously had warned the waves triggered by the tsunami could be higher than some Pacific islands.  But spokesman Paul Conneally tells VOA the waves are smaller than originally predicted.  However, he cautions against complacency.

    “As the situation looks right now, I think that these islands will have managed to dodge a major tsunami intact," said Conneally. "But then, the logistics differ as well from island to island.  In some islands, yes, you can evacuate people by air.  In other islands like Vanuatu, for instance, they are very dispersed, and the infrastructure is not necessarily there.  So, it is a major challenge.  It is going to be an ongoing concern in a region, which is very disaster prone.”  

    Conneally says there is a lot of uncertainty about the extent of the tsunami and how it might evolve.  He notes tsunami alerts have been issued for the Asia-Pacific region, for the Americas and for Kenya.

    He says the extent of the damage and loss of life from the 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan will not be known for some time.  But given the scale of the disaster, he says it is bound to be widespread and very significant.  

    The Red Cross spokesman says the Japanese have an excellent capacity to respond to disasters.  He notes many Red Cross volunteers are on the ground and are working closely with heavily affected local communities.  In addition, 11 Japanese disaster response teams are carrying out emergency operations.  

    “Looking at the areas of health, shelter and nutrition and psychological support," he said. "And, they are increasing their deployments by the hour.  And, really in Japan as the waters recede, probably in another 24 hours or so, we will begin to see exactly what is required in terms of disaster response.”  

    Conneally says a major clean-up operation will be required.  He says there will be a lot of threats from aftershocks, and the Red Cross will have to keep a very close watch on this and reinforce support.

    You May Like

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora