An International Medical Corps emergency response team is on the ground in Sendai, Japan and is coordinating with local officials to support response efforts, fill critical gaps and deliver supplies. Based on assessments, the team found that although the coastal area of Sendai has suffered large-scale damage to infrastructure, the main city is functioning relatively well, with electricity and regular services being restored. The team visited University Hospital, a 1,250 bed facility, and found it functioning reasonably well. There are some noted shortages in food, water and basic supplies, with people forming long lines for available supplies. There is also a noticeable fuel shortage.
International Medical Corps’ team is planning to access coastal communities that have not yet been reached to assess post-disaster conditions, determine needs and plan a response accordingly. In addition, International Medical Corps has four medical teams on standby and is ready to airlift additional supplies as needed.
While Japan has significant capacity to manage emergencies, the magnitude of this disaster – coupled with the threat of nuclear exposure – has been large enough to warrant international assistance. International Medical Corps is providing logistical support and technical expertise to local health authorities based on our more than 25 years of experience in disaster response, including following the 2004 Southeast Asian Tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
The 9.0 earthquake triggered a tsunami that buried many northern towns in a wall of water. Japanese news media report that up to 10,000 people may have been killed, but much of the north is still inaccessible. It has been described as the largest earthquake on record for Japan. Aftershocks continue to shake the country, with a second large earthquake of 7.4-magnitude.
Thousands in the tsunami zone are without water, heat, electricity, or phone service, and some areas have been entirely cut off. On Friday, President Barack Obama said the United States was ready to help however needed.
In addition, there have been explosions at nuclear power plants in northern Japan, compounding the crisis. While the level of radiation leaked is unknown, Japanese authorities have ordered large-scale evacuations surrounding the reactor zones.
International Medical Corps has been a leading responder to emergencies in more than 50 countries, including the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami, 2005 Pakistan earthquake, 2010 Haiti earthquake and Pakistan floods.