It is feared that as many as 10,000 people have been killed in the disaster, described by Japan’s prime minister as the most severe crisis to hit the country since World War Two ended 65 years ago.
Millions of people are without clean water, electricity and food after Friday’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake sent a 23-foot high tsunami crashing into the north-eastern coast of Japan, sweeping away houses, crops, cars, trucks, and ships.
World Vision is bringing supplies to survivors and setting up safe play areas in the disaster zone to help children recover from the trauma of losing their parents or their homes.
World Vision UK’s chief executive Justin Byworth said the organisation was raising money to support its teams already on the ground.
He said: “It is clear this is a huge disaster. Children have lost their parents, their homes and their schools.
“Those that have lived through this will be at risk of being severely traumatised.
“It is vital that children in these situations can have somewhere safe to go and can be looked after by trained counsellors who can help them come to terms with all that has happened.
“Parents will be in shock too. Providing a safe place for their children means parents can concentrate on what they need to do to protect their families, knowing their children are being cared for.”
The UK has sent a team of rescuers, medics and sniffer dogs to help in the search for survivors in Ofunato, around 100 miles north of the port city of Sendai.
The Salvation Army in Japan has dispatched an emergency relief team to Sendai, which was virtually destroyed by the tsunami, and is appealing for donations.
The United Nations said rescue and relief operations were being hampered by continues aftershocks, tsunami alerts and fires.
“Many areas along the northeast coast remain isolated and unreachable,” the UN said in a statement.
Tearfund expressed particular concern for poor communities, which it said were often “ill-equipped” to respond after a natural disaster. The Christian development agency is offering its prayers for the people of Japan and the country’s long-term recovery.
Christian Aid has offered a prayer for those affected by the disaster and the rescue workers:
O God, our refuge and strength,
our help in times of trouble.
Have mercy on the lands where the earth has given way.
Have mercy on the lands where the weather has destroyed livelihoods.
Prosper those who rebuild houses,
and strengthen those who rebuild hope
so that entire communities
may face the future without fear.
World Vision has launched a Japan tsunami appeal. To donate, go to: www.worldvision.org.uk/server.php?show=nav.3001&giftId=47
To donate to The Salvation Army’s response, visit secure20.salvationarmy.org/donation.jsp
Massive relief effort underway in Japan
Christians are bringing emergency relief to survivors of the earthquake and tsunami that has devastated north-eastern Japan.
Published 14 March 2011 | Brian Hutt