Underwater robots search for tsunami victims

2011-04-21 18:54


Tokyo - Two underwater robots operated by a joint US-Japanese team have searched a bay in northeast Japan for bodies of victims swept away by a tsunami nearly six weeks ago, officials said on Thursday.

Although the Micro-ROV robots failed to spot any corpses in the search on Tuesday and Wednesday, they found that the fishing port of Minami Sanrikucho was free of major underwater obstacles and could be reopened soon.

"The water in the port is still so murky that it is very difficult to inspect visually," said local fishery promotion official Akihiro Dazai.

"The robots' sonar and video cameras could check what it was like underwater," he told AFP by telephone. "We've confirmed that fishing boats can reach unloading berths without a major hindrance."

The backwash of the tsunami, which followed a 9.0-magnitude quake on March 11, was found to have dragged steel and lumber frames of buildings to the edge of a breakwater where they posed no danger to fishing vessels in the port famous for its autumn salmon haul.

Town Mayor Hitoshi Sato told local media: "The fishery industry is a pillar of our recovery plan. The search result has given us a boost to reopen the fishing port at an early date."

The quake and tsunami have left more than 27 000 dead or missing and put a nuclear power plant in danger of a catastrophic meltdown.

Of the 18 000 people in Minami Sanrikucho on the rugged Pacific coast in Miyagi prefecture, some 450 were killed and 640 others went missing. Some 3 880 houses were washed away.

The search was conducted by the International Rescue System Institute, a Japanese non-profit organisation led by Tohoku University professor Satoshi Tadokoro who specialises in studying disaster rescue robots and systems.

It was joined by the US Centre for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue led by Robin Murphy of Texas A and M University.

The joint team moved on Thursday to another tsunami-devastated town of Rikuzen Takata to the north to conduct a similar search there on Friday and Saturday.

The robots are 40cm high by 66 wide and 66 long and are remotely operated.
Read more on:    japan  |  robotics  |  japan earthquake

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Front End Developer

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Communicate Cape Town IT
R20 000 Per Month

Stock Controller - Retail

Persona Staff


Western Cape
JPTM HOLDING (Pty) Ltd Trading as GLOBE Recruitment
R8 000 - R9 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


Mind power dominates and can help you to uncover things from a deeper level, but it can also create entanglements if you let your...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.