Japan Earthquake Update: Emergency Relief Briefing

UPDATE: Due to increased radiation levels, the team is holding off on their departure - Will Update you all in the AM.

12 March 2011

I really don’t know where to start – there has been so much destruction over such a large area.  The death toll is now somewhere near 1000 but with the lack of communication throughout the affected area, this is a number that is sure to increase.  “Tens of thousands are unaccounted for”. The worst hit zone appears to be the port city of Sendai (population > 1M) and much like 2004, the tsunami was more destructive than the earthquake as a 10m wave washed over the city.  26 aftershocks greater than 6.0 have occurred since the 8.9 earthquake and scientists are concerned that many more will occur and there is a fear that another major quake could hit the area much like what occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Police are saying that at least 300,000 people have fled their homes and there have been reports of entire villages being swept away.  Local authorities reported that almost 10,000 people – out of a population of 17,000 – were missing from the fishing port of Minamisanriku, which was engulfed by huge waves that swept inland for six miles.

It will be days – possibly weeks – before we really know the total impact of the earthquake and tsunami.  Rescue and relief teams are coming in from all over the world with the first emphasis on trying to rescue individuals trapped under the rubble or stranded on rooftops.

And to compound the fears of residents, a large explosion occurred today at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan. Officials say the container housing the reactor was not damaged and sea water is being pumped into the reactor to cool it. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the area and BBC is reporting 110,000 people have been moved away from the plant. Another 30,000 have been evacuated from a 10km radius around Fukushima No. 2 plant. But full evacuation measures had not been completed as the government just increased the evacuation zone to 20 km.

As you can imagine, much of the area is without power (6M households) and supplies are short and difficult to come by. We were able to reach Kazu, our in-country veterinary contact late Friday who is very near the impacted area.  He and his daughter have helped IFAW’s efforts in this area before with our work with oil spill response and training.

I received this brief comment from Kazu earlier today, “There is no way to get the site, except maybe hiring helicopter.  Public transportation is not an option, yes cars but no gas stations.  Communications are also limited, only public phones from inside those area are reasonably reliable.”  Kazu has met with the President of the Tokyo Veterinary Association and is working hard to determine animal impact.

There were reports earlier today that zoos and aquaria were impacted but Kazu reports, “Two aquarium was damaged by tsunami.  There are not severe damages with other zoo and aquarium.  Now, Japan Zoo & Wild life Medicine Association has been checking up on there.”

We continue to reach out to government and non-government agencies to determine if there what role if any IFAW can play,  this typically it takes 7-10 days before animal issues are usually addressed so we will try to be as patient as possible but obviously we are quite anxious to be able to join the relief efforts.  Fortunately, IFAW has many good friends in the country..

-- DG

13 March 2011

1700 hr.  I’m sure that everyone is aware of the latest threat in Japan – a meltdown of the nuclear reactor(s).  It has been a day of ups and downs as various “experts” weigh in on the dangers.  But the latest at this hour is that the possibility of a massive radiation exposure remains (reasonably) low.  They continue to flood the reactors with saltwater in an attempt to cool them and the Prime Minister is doing everything he can to allay fear -but the situation is dangerous and we will be watching it closely.

The death toll continues to climb and is now listed at just less than 1600 but many fear that number will reach 10,000.

Power is being restored and many services are slowly come back on line in Tokyo though there are extreme shortages in food, fuel, and critical supplies.  And then there is the constant reminder of the fear of additional aftershocks - "The news is telling us that there is a 70% change of another 7.0 or greater earthquake within three days," said CNN iReporter Gabriel Rodriguez.

Hopefully we will soon be able to provide our own pictures as we have decided to dispatch an assessment team tomorrow and will be comprised of Emergency Relief Manager Dick Green, Emergency Relief Communications Officer Mike Booth, and Emergency Relief Officer Shannon Walajtys. Our immediate goal is to meet with local rescue groups and government officials and to see as much of the impacted area as possible and better determine IFAW’s role in the relief effort.

As we saw most recently in Haiti, major disasters require long-term planning and a concerted effort between NGO and governmental ranks to ensure that the greatest number of animals and humans benefit from the intervention.

I will provide an update once we’re on the ground in Japan sometime in the next 24-36 hours.

- DG

Stay tuned to IFAW.org and IFAW social channels for updates as they come in.

Comments: 46

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Amen to Toni Montana's comment on the Cove Guardians! learn to RESPECT the planet or it won't respect you!!! I think I seen one of their boats sink in the tsunami videos...the hunters boats (or that's what I was told anyway). There were probably hunters in it. Sad karma. Respect the planet people, respect the planet!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Thanks!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I was very disappointed by the video which shows no help being given at all. What sort of person goes into a shed full of starving and thirsty cows without any water. Saying this is dreadful but providing no practical help is no use at all. There must be some water somewhere otherwise this fellow would not be there.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Dick, thanks for the blog, hope you have a chance to deploy. I've seen photos of people in shelters with their pets, and I'm glad for those survivors. Suggest you encourage those agencies on the ground to try to help evacuess with their pets now, due to overcrowding at shelters many people being relocated. People remaining behind, civilians need support for animals in their possession. Large elderly population will require new housing, encourage pet friendly respones from the senior support community. A long slow road for these victims.

Two people were rescued after 8 days because they had access to yogurt, many animals will be resourceful in getting into areas where they feel secure and can locate food. Close in veterinary clinics and shelters are mobilized for emergencies. Due to many factors, there is only so much we can know right now about what is happening. And that seems to be the hardest thing for many of us. so thanks again Dick., for letting us know you are in touch with your counterparts, wish them all the best of luck, and please post again.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

How about reporting that Cove Guardians, a group that attempts to stop the annual Japanese slaughter of dolphins,were in Taiji, Japan when the tsunami hit. They witnessed that the Japanese hunters left about 40 dolphins trapped in a holding pen in Taiji harbor instead of releasing them. The dolphins were smashed against the rocks when the tsunami hit and the Cove Guardians watched helplessly and listened to their screams as they died. Maybe the Japanes could extend their compassion to non-Japanese life forms if they expect compassion for themselves. Look at the Coveguardians.org site for more info.

Toni
Montana

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Why aren't you over there NOW? These animals need help but by the time you arrive they could be dead. If there are other groups already on the ground then surely you should be there too!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Hi Bethanne - I tried to post this on the IFAW website, but it isn't there yet. If you go to The Conscious Cat blog of March 12, there is a link to be able to donate directly to rescue groups that are on the ground in Japan.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I was just advised that the website The Conscious Cat had a posting on March 12 that gives you links to Japanese on-the-ground animal welfare groups. You can use PayPal and there is an option to switch from Japanese to English. I think it also converts yen to dollars, but make sure of your donation before you okay it. Please moderator - okay this post asap so that the info can get out there. This is no time to be worrying about competing for donation money. Thank you.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I want to be able to send money DIRECTLY to any in organizations on the ground right now in Japan. I want my money to help today, not in the future. How, where is there a place I can make a donation. Are there direct links to Japanese rescue groups that are working today, at this minute, to help those poor animals? Please, please provide us with that information. I feel so helpless.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

[...] (Updates with comments from federal response commander and BP executive, and additional details throughout.) By Cassandra Sweet and Susan Daker Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES BP PLC (BP, BP.LN) said Friday that preliminary test results show that a new cap on the broken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico has sealed the oil underground, although more tests are needed to be sure. The US government ordered additional testing and measurements on Friday, after concluding that pressure readings were encouraging but not conclusive. The pressure in the well has risen steadily to about 6700 pounds per square inch since BP started a crucial test Thursday afternoon, government and BP officials said. That level indicates that no oil is leaking from the well, but it isn’t high enough to rule out the possibility that there’s an invisible leak in the well, or somewhere else along the sea floor, they said. The pressure reading is “generally good news,” retired US Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal response commander, said during a teleconference. But ” there is enough uncertainty about the meaning of what the pressure is” to prompt government scientists to want to know more about the conditions of the well and the sea floor, he said. If the cap succeeds, it would be a major achievement for BP after a string of failed attempts to stop the runaway well, which has devastated the US Gulf Coast and its fishing and tourism industries. BP and government scientists were hoping for a pressure reading … Video Rating: 5 / 5 Additionally you can check out this related post: http://blog.ifaw.org/2011/03/14/japan-earthquake-update-emergency-relief... [...]

Post a comment