Quakes: Japan asks US to help

2016-04-19 07:41
An evacuee takes a rest at a gym-turned-shelter after an earthquake in Nishihara village, Japan. (Yohei Nishimura, Kyodo News via AP)

An evacuee takes a rest at a gym-turned-shelter after an earthquake in Nishihara village, Japan. (Yohei Nishimura, Kyodo News via AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Minami-Aso - Japan on Monday enlisted US help to airlift supplies to some of the 100 000 people made homeless by earthquakes in the country's south, as rescuers struggled to find those still missing in a massive landslide.

Many of those evacuated after their homes were damaged or destroyed have had to sleep in temporary accommodation or huddle in makeshift shelters, and media have reported problems in delivering food and other essentials.

The disaster-prone country's worst humanitarian challenge since 2011 - when a quake, tsunami and then nuclear meltdown hit the northeast coast - has left 44 dead as of early Tuesday, Jiji press reported, and more than 1 000 injured.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government was working to find survivors and care for the displaced, and that the US military had sent aircraft to help with the daunting relief effort.

"Many people are spending anxiety-filled days at evacuation facilities," he told reporters. "We will continue to offer hands-on assistance to the individuals affected."

Around 10 000 people are staying in their cars at an exhibition hall parking lot in the town of Mashiki, but emergency supplies have not been delivered as the facility is not registered as a shelter, Fuji television said.

In another case, volunteers sent supplies and the military brought six tons of water to a hospital in Kumamoto city after a doctor complained on Facebook that there was not enough water or food for patients.

"Thanks to this, we don't have to worry about water to wash hands after treating patients," doctor Takeshi Hasuda said.

Kumamoto's mayor took to Twitter on Monday to apologise to the "many voices" who had complained about delays in providing help.

"Please be patient," Kazufumi Onishi wrote, promising that the situation would quickly improve.

The disaster comes at a particularly sensitive time for Abe, just months ahead of elections for the upper house of parliament.

Race against time

Up to 25 000 Japanese military and other personnel have fanned out through villages where scores of traditional houses have been left in ruins by Saturday's 7.0 magnitude quake, which struck a part of Japan not used to such tremors.

A number of people are still missing, feared engulfed by landslides, after earthquakes struck the island of Kyushu.

An initial quake on Thursday, measured at 6.2 magnitude by US geologists, affected older buildings and killed nine people. But Saturday's more powerful tremor brought even newer structures crashing down.

Kazuya Shimada, 63, a resident of the landslide-ravaged village of Minami-Aso, said that he had evacuated to another town as his home was uninhabitable.

"Not a single tile is left on the roof," Shimada said.

"I have never seen a landslide like this before," he told AFP. "I had never worried about this before, living here."

Villages in remote mountainous areas have been completely cut off by slippages and damage to roads.

The US military, which has almost 50 000 servicemen and women stationed in Japan, is also taking part in rescue activities.

Tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft were flying to the disaster zone after arriving at a US Marine airbase to take part in relief efforts, officials said.

"The capacity of the Osprey, with vertical take-off ability, is necessary to swiftly carry supplies to those who are isolated or facing serious traffic congestion," Defence Minister Gen Nakatani said Monday.

More than 500 earthquakes have rocked Kumamoto and other parts of central Kyushu since Thursday, stoking fears that houses not damaged in the two major quakes could yet be affected.

Five airlines said they will resume flights to Kumamoto Airport on Tuesday, Jiji press reported, quoting Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii as saying this will help accelerate reconstruction efforts.

But flights from the airport remain suspended, Jiji said, as damage from the quakes, including the collapse of ceilings in the airport's terminal buildings, meant it was unable to carry out security checks.

Japan is one of the world's most seismically active countries, sitting on the so-called "Ring of Fire" around the Pacific tectonic plate.

A huge undersea quake in March 2011 killed around 18 500 people when it sent a devastating tsunami barrelling into the northeast coast, sparking a nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

Authorities were lashed for their response to the meltdown, faulted in particular for confusion as the crisis unfolded as well as the handling of evacuees from stricken areas.


Read more on:    us  |  japan  |  natural disasters  |  earthquakes

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

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.

Settings

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.