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Japan to deploy 100,000 troops on quake aid

World rushes aid to quake-hit Japan
Paris (AFP) March 13, 2011 - International rescue teams were rushing to Japan Sunday after a 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami left more than 1,000 dead, at least 10,000 missing and seriously damaged a nuclear power plant. The world has rallied behind Japan, where tsunami waves up to 10 metres (33 feet) high rolled across the low-lying northeast on Friday, washing away everything in their path. US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan arrived off the coast of Japan early Sunday to provide logistical support for Japanese forces. Japan has asked it to refuel its helicopters and help transport its troops to affected areas, the US Pacific Fleet said on its Facebook page.

A 144-member rescue team of the US Agency for International Development was also due at Misawa, northern Japan, later Sunday, to join inland operations, the Japanese foreign ministry said. They included 12 dogs trained to detect victims trapped under rubble and about 150 tonnes of rescue equipment, USAID said. With more than 1,000 people feared dead and authorities scrambling to bring reactors under control at two nuclear plants, Japanese officials have asked other nations to provide sniffer dogs to help search for trapped survivors. Australia, South Korea and Singapore on Saturday all pledged to send dogs and search and rescue teams, as they also offered their condolences to Tokyo.

On Sunday, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said they had offered self-contained field hospitals and disaster victim identification teams to help in the process of both rescuing survivors and recovering bodies. They had also offered the expertise of nuclear specialists to help address the threat from the damaged power station, he added. And two experts from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission were headed for Japan, the commission announced Saturday. Japan reported that an estimated 200,000 people had been evacuated so far from the areas around the Fukushima No.1 and No. 2 nuclear plants, the UN atomic watchdog said. After an explosion at the plant's No. 1 reactor Saturday afternoon despite efforts to control high temperatures and growing inside pressure, the operator said Sunday another reactor was at risk.

In a message to the Japanese prime minister the Dalai Lama, who has a huge following among Japanese Buddhists, expressed his "sadness" at the catastrophe and praised Japan's high level of disaster preparedness for saving lives. And Britain's Queen Elizabeth II sent her "heartfelt sympathy" in a message to Japan's Emperor Akihito. After the European Union vowed to get aid to Japan Friday, many member states were quick to make their contribution. From Britain, a 59-strong search and rescue team was headed for Japan Sunday, with two rescue dogs, a medical support unit -- and 11 tonnes of specialist rescue equipment including heavy lifting and cutting gear. France said it was sending two civil security teams to help with rescue efforts. The Japanese Red Cross on Saturday sent 62 emergency teams to rescue victims of the earthquake, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said from its Geneva headquarters.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) March 13, 2011
Japan will double to 100,000 the number of troops on rescue and relief missions after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the northeast coast, the government said Sunday.

Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa told a meeting of his ministry's emergency headquarters that he had received the order from Prime Minister Naoto Kan, a government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Police said Sunday the death toll from the disaster was nearing 900. Along the hard-hit east coast of Honshu island, where the monster waves struck, more than 12,250 homes and other buildings were destroyed or damaged.

earlier related report
People turn ever more to the web in times of crisis
Hong Kong (AFP) March 13, 2011 - The earthquake off the coast of Japan and the resulting tsunami has proven, yet again, how the Internet offers an information lifeline to the world in a time of crisis.

The Internet was designed so that US military communications could withstand a nuclear war, but is proving equally resilient in the face of natural disasters and even seismic shifts in global politics.

As the waves smashed into the Japanese coastline following the 8.9-magnitude earthquake 130 kilometres (80 miles) east in the Pacific ocean on Friday, a tsunami of images was also soon hitting the web.

In scenes worthy of any Hollywood disaster movie, a massive wave was shown rolling in from the sea, and one of the most watched and shared videos was of water slowly engulfing the city of Sendai's airport.

Small aircraft, cars and trucks were shown scattered amongst the shattered debris of buildings like an unruly child's toy box.

And what looked like prefabricated factory units were shown floating under a bridge as drivers spun their cars and trucks around to try to outrun the waves.

Nearly five million people tuned in to video sharing site YouTube on Saturday to watch one raw, unedited video of the wave chewing away at Japan's coastline. Several other videos had notched up between three and four million hits.

Hundreds of people commented on the videos across the web and shared information, from social network giant Facebook to micro-blogging site Twitter -- as well as local, Japanese language websites.

And the Internet also functioned as a virtual crisis centre as sites such as Google's people finder service helped locate loved ones and offered help and support to survivors.

As the floodwaters subsided, worried friends and relatives leapt onto their computers to find information about people who had not been heard from since the mighty wave crashed ashore.

Google's person finder service had notched up more than 81,000 records of people leaving messages seeking information on friends and family by 0300 GMT Sunday.

The site was updating, in English and Japanese, by the hundreds every few minutes.

A random search of the common Japanese surname "Sato" brought up hundreds of results, many of them for people living in Sendai -- the city that faced the brunt of the thunderous body of rolling water.

Gunduzhan posted a message seeking Aki Sato, a dentist from Sendai who studied at Ohu University in Koriyama. A photo of the pretty young woman was also posted on the site.

"Looking for Aki Sato," the post read. "Last heard from after earthquake but before tsunami."

Another post seeking Fatima Sato had some good news -- "Mom is ok. She is on her way home."

The international and Japanese Red Cross also set up a similar site.

And micro-blogging site Twitter was updating every second with messages of good will, of condolences and offering aid.

A service was being shared on Twitter allowing people the chance to donate to the Red Cross via text message, the donation being added to phone bills.

Some tweets were posted by international celebrities such as the American singer Lady Gaga, who launched a bracelet to support the relief effort.

She asked her legion of fans -- whom she calls "Little Monsters" -- to buy a bracelet on her website saying, "We Pray for Japan," for donations of $5 or more. All proceeds will go to relief efforts, she said.

Useful links:

The English version of the Red Cross website was being set up at

The English version of the Google friend finder service can be found here:

Facebook's Japan tsunami page can be found here:!/japan.tsunami.2011

YouTube videos:

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Japanese search team leaves N.Z. for own crisis
Wellington (AFP) March 12, 2011
A Japanese search team working in the earthquake-devastated New Zealand city of Christchurch made hasty preparations to return home Saturday to deal with the crisis in their own country. An advance party of New Zealand Urban Search and Rescue staff would also be sent to Japan immediately to help with earthquake recovery efforts, Prime Minister John Key said. The 8.9-magnitude quake that ... read more

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