Click here to read more about our response to the twin earthquakes that rocked Kumamoto, Japan in April 2016.
SUPPORT EMERGENCY RESPONSE
Perched on the Ring of Fire, Japan is one of the most seismically active countries in the world. While Japan has one of the highest capacities to manage emergencies, the unprecedented scale of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011 warranted international support.
International Medical Corps’ emergency response team was on the ground 48 hours after the earthquake and tsunami. Since that time we've worked in support of the Government of Japan and local partner organizations to help communities impacted by the 2011 disaster fully recover. In April 2016 we had a team on the ground again in response to the two earthquakes that rocked Kumamoto prefecture.
2016 Kumamoto Twin Earthquakes Response
On April 14, 2016, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Kumamoto prefecture in southern Japan. Just 48 hours later, a larger temblor—7.0 in magnitude—hit. The two earthquakes together killed 49 people and injured 1,400. An estimated 145,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed in the earthquakes, forcing 181,000 people to evacuate their homes. Many moved into evacuation centers set up in schools, community centers, and other available buildings.
International Medical Corps, together with local authorities and organizations, responded to the needs of those displaced by the twin Kumamoto earthquakes, reaching approximately 2,500 people with relief and recovery efforts across 20 evacuation centers. This included providing relief items such as clothing, bedding, water supplies, hygiene items, and lights as well as mattresses, temporary bed-frames, and emergency latrines. We also deployed teams of physical and occupational therapists, psychosocial support professionals, nurses, and doctors from Kumamoto City Hospital to support the physical and emotional needs of survivors in evacuation centers. Today, we continue to support those still displaced by the earthquakes, including distributing automated external defibrillators and other items to improve safety and living conditions in evacuation centers.
2011 Earthquake-Tsunami Response
More than 16,000 people were killed, with thousands more still missing, as a result of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011. The mass destruction of homes and infrastructures by these natural disasters, coupled with the radiation threat around the Fukushima nuclear plant, meant that hundreds of thousands of people lost or could not return to their homes.
International Medical Corps worked with local partners to deliver humanitarian services, such as hot meals, medicines, telecommunications equipment, and mental health and psychosocial services and training. We also collaborated with local Japanese agencies to address ongoing humanitarian needs and support disaster-affected communities in becoming more resilient.
This included working with Japan Volunteer Center, Shapla Neer, and The People to run community spaces throughout Fukushima Prefecture where evacuees could meet other evacuees and receive psychological support and information about available resources. We also organized and offered recreational workshops and activities.
We also prioritized support for Fukushima’s evacuee children. We worked with The Associate for Aid and Relief to install playground equipment for the Gangoya Temporary Housing Complex. With local partner IVY, we also supported the first day care center for children of evacuee families from Fukushima. We also partnered with non-profit organizations like Iwaki City’s WaiWai Workshop to ensure that the next time disaster strikes, communities are ready to be their own best first responders.