Monday, March 14, 2011

Earthquake - Nigeria to Assist Japan

Nigeria has said, it would, "in its own little way", assist Japan which had its north-eastern part struck by a powerful earthquake and a tsunami on Friday.

Her commitment to assist came on the heels of similar pledges by some 50 other countries across the world yesterday, which offered to support Japan in its "recovery effort".

Reacting to the devastation of some parts of the Asian country by a combination of the earthquake, measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale, and the subsequent tsunami, Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, said Nigeria stands in solidarity with the people and government of Japan.

"Our heart goes out to the families of those, who lost their loved ones in this tragedy and we stand in solidarity with the government and people of Japan.

"We hope that as the international community rallies round to offer support, we will, in our little way, do what we can to lend support to the efforts to bring some succour to those who have been affected by this natural disaster," Ajumogobia said.

He said the Nigerian mission in Tokyo had been contacted, confirming that the embassy itself was not affected but they had been directed to set up emergency communication lines for Nige-rians, who might be affected by the natural disaster.

The minister said the deadly incident was also a reminder of the challenges facing the world in the area of climate change.

Noting that the deadly incident had been described as the worst in Japan in over a hundred years, he said it was a call to the international community to stand together in tackling the challenges of climate change.

As part of relief efforts for the areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami, the Canadian Red Cross Society Saturday launched a Japan Earthquake/Tsunami fund, which in the first nine hours, raked in about $176,000 from donations from Canadians.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yukio Edano, also confirmed yesterday that there was an explosion and radiation leakage at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Radiation leaked from the crippled nuclear plant after a blast blew the roof off, and authorities prepared to distribute iodine to people in the vicinity to protect them from exposure.

The government insisted radiation levels were low because although the explosion severely damaged the main building of the plant, it had not affected the reactor core container.

Local media said three workers suffered radiation exposure at the plant in the wake of Friday's massive earthquake, which sent a 10-meter (33-foot) tsunami ripping through towns and cities across the northeast coast.

Meanwhile, Japan's foreign ministry confirmed that condolences and offers of aid poured in from around the world, including Canada.

Japan had requested search and rescue teams from several countries with early estimates put at billions of dollars.

On its part, the United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon said UN would do everything it can to help Japan. This also followed assurances from President Barack Obama that the US was sending another aircraft carrier to the region along with equipment that can lift huge loads.

Similarly, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he spoke on Friday with Japan's ambassador to the country, during which he "offered any support and assistance that may be needed by that country."

The International Comm-ittee of the Red Cross has also set up a Family Links website to help people trying to re-establish contact with missing family members and friends. The ICRC said the worst hit areas are in the prefectures of Miyagi, Fukushima, Tochigi and Ibaraka.

The earthquake, which swept away cars, ships and buildings by a wall of water struck about 400km (250 miles) north-east of Tokyo, have reportedly left at least 20 aftershocks, with magnitudes ranging from five to 6.8.

The Economic Times reports that the aftershocks rocked Japan's east coast yesterday, a day after the 8.9-magnitude earthquake devastated the country and caused mass destruction.

The damage caused by the quake, reports said on Friday, was amplified by tsunami waves slamming Pacific coastal regions in northeastern Japan.

The official death toll stood at 413, while 784 people were missing and 1,128 injured.

Equally, about 725 people remain unaccounted for in six prefectures, while the number of victims of the catastrophe was expected to rise to well over 1,000 people, the defence ministry said yesterday.

The National Police Agency said about 1,800 houses in Fukushima prefecture were destroyed. It said more than 215,000 people were in emergency shelters in eastern and northern Japan yesterday.

Search and rescue efforts were being conducted with the help of the US military, with around 20,000 personnel, nearly 200 aircraft and 25 boats being dispatched to the hardest-hit northeastern region.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan yesterday inspected the quake-hit nuclear power plant in Fukushima, where damage from a radioactive leak occurred. He also toured other affected areas.

"I realised the huge extent of the tsunami damage," Kan told reporters after returning to Tokyo.

Almost six million households were left without power in quake-hit areas yesterday and four trains operating in the coastal regions of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures have yet to be found following the colossal tsunami.

This Day

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