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JAPAN EARTHQUAKE & TSUNAMI - MARCH 2011 (Lest we forget)

Fri 3 March 09.27

ShelterBox responding to Japanese earthquake and tsunami

A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is mobilising after a massive earthquake struck Japan earlier today. The earthquake, measuring 8.9 in magnitude, triggered a tsunami that’s caused extensive damage.
The latest reports coming out of Japan have shown cars, ships and buildings being swept away with waves of up to 10 meters high slamming into the coast. Areas across the Pacific Basin have been put on tsunami alert including Russia, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Hawaii.
SRT members Lasse Petersen (AU) and Mark Pearson (UK) are ready to head to Japan and begin ShelterBox’s international response.
‘The scenes we’re seeing are catastrophic,’ said Lasse. ‘Whole homes are being washed away and our thoughts go out to all the families who are facing this disaster. The epicentre was in Japan so our first team are mobilising to head there but we continue to watch very closely the path of the tsunami. We’re very aware the worst may not be over.’

According to U.S. Geological Survey the earthquake was magnitude 8.9 at a depth of 20 miles with the epicentre 250 miles away from Japan’s capital Tokyo.

The tsunami warning was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre and they say the wave could even reach as far as Chile.

Tom Henderson, ShelterBox Founder and CEO, added: ‘At present the scale of the disaster is difficult to measure. What we do know is that the combination of such a large earthquake followed by the tsunami has the potential to cause significant damage across the Pacific Rim.

‘We have aid pre-positioned locally and a member of the ShelterBox Response Team stationed in the Philippines enabling an immediate response.’

Fri 3 March 20.57

Disaster lessons put to the test in Japanese response

Homes have been washed away, thousands of people are unaccounted for and the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan today continues to rise.

The catastrophic scenes from north-east Japan have shocked the world. Fires have raged out of control, fissures have cracked the land and torrents of water have swept away cars, boats and buildings. The humanitarian response to the disaster began immediately and a three-person ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is already en route to Japan.

Three of ShelterBox’s most experienced SRT members, Lasse Petersen (AU), Mark Pearson (UK) and John Diksa(FR), are spear-heading the response and will be drawing on all of their skills and experience in delivering emergency disaster relief as they fight to overcome the challenges ahead.

Mark Pearson led ShelterBox’s response to the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, and the Haiti earthquake and Pakistan floods in 2010. He was in Port au Prince, Haiti’s capital, less than 36 hours after the January earthquake last year and says the lessons learnt from there will be essential.

‘When you arrive in a country in the immediate aftermath of a disaster you have to be prepared to operate quickly, effectively and make the right decisions under pressure,’ he said.

‘We’re there to help, not to add to the burden, so we make sure we’re completely self-sufficient. Operationally, the Haiti earthquake was one of the toughest tests we’ve faced and it’s vital we apply the lessons we learnt there to our response in Japan.

‘One of the biggest challenges facing us in Japan will be the logistics of reaching the affected are. The north-east of the country is a very remote area and with the infrastructure being either damaged or wiped-out it’s going to be a real battle to find out where the greatest need lies.

‘We’ll be working closely with regional and national authorities as well as other aid agencies operating in the field to ensure there is a coordinated effort to reach the people in most need.’

Phenomenal support
The situation in Japan is still unclear and the scale of the disaster continues to unfold. Scientists say the earthquake was 8,000 times stronger than the earthquake that rocked Christchurch, New Zealand, last month. ShelterBox stands by to respond in whatever capacity is required as the extent of destruction and the scale of need becomes clear.

ShelterBox Founder and CEO, Tom Henderson, said: ‘The outpouring of support we’ve witnessed today from around the globe is phenomenal. Once again our supporters are going the extra mile with their acts of generosity; we can’t thank them enough. Our thoughts are with everyone affected during this tragic time and we are ready to help in whatever way we’re needed.’

Sat 4 March 17:01

Emergency shelter top priority in disaster-hit Japan

The Japanese government have today called for international aid assistance in the wake of yesterday’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

The latest reports coming out of Japan state that more than 215,000 people have been made homeless by the two-pronged disaster with the need for emergency shelter being the top priority.

ShelterBox were on the ground in Japan within less than 24 hours after the earthquake struck. The hugely-experience ShelterBox Response Team (SRT), consisting of Mark Pearson (UK), Lasse Petersen (AU), John Diksa (FR) and David Eby (US), are now working with authorities to assess the areas of most need.

Speaking from Tokyo, Mark Pearson said: ‘We’re facing a unique set of circumstances dealing with the affects of an earthquake, a tsunami and now a potential nuclear incident.

ShelterBoxes being packed at Helston Lizard

‘Our efforts will initially be focussed on Japan’s north where the worst affected areas are. We have aid ready to move as soon as we establish where the greatest need is.’

Tom Henderson, ShelterBox Founder and CEO, added: ‘In light of how many people are now displaced from their homes our primary concern is making sure that our aid is available to those who need it most.

‘Our team responded immediately to the disaster and will now be working with our Rotary partners and supporters to manage the call for aid as it evolves.’

ShelterBox maintain a pre-positioned stock of boxes at key locations around the world enabling the organisation to respond quickly to any requests for aid.

As well as the response to Japan, ShelterBox also has SRT members working in Madagascar, Bolivia and Peru, delivering emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies to families who have lost everything in disasters.