SA rescue team heading to Japan

2011-03-14 09:27
Johannesburg - A South African rescue team will leave for Japan to help with relief efforts following a 9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit the country's east coast, Rescue South Africa said on Monday.

Rescue SA put a team together of a maximum of 50 people who planned to fly out on Monday evening, said spokesperson Ian Scher.

He said the NGO had put together a team to go to the quake-hit north-eastern part of Japan where a tsunami struck the coast of Miyagi prefecture.


The team would consist of firefighter rescuers, medical personnel, press, and dog handlers and their dogs.

Scher said Rescue SA needed about R7m for the operation and at the moment "they were about half way there".

"This is largely funded by the private sector. People like Netcare have sponsored R1m, Discovery have sponsored R500 000, Econet Wireless have sponsored R1m, MTN R500 000, and Core Group have sponsored R250 000," he said.

"We are waiting for quite a few others."

ER24 and Medhold were sponsoring medication and warehouses.

Charter plane

Scher said the NGO was chartering a Boeing 747 to transport the team and the supplies.

The flight would take between 15 and 17 hours and they were not told where they would be landing.

Rescue SA falls under the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) who co-ordinate the rescue operation. Teams from different countries would report back on a daily basis on progress made.

"When we go on such a mission we go equipped... We have got to have our own camp, food, rescue equipment, medication and doctors - so you don't become a burden to the country you go and assist," Scher said.

- Rescue South Africa website

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