Japanese Red Cross Society at the forefront of Kumamoto earthquake emergency response efforts

تم النشر: 15 أبريل 2016 10:00 CET

By Hler Gudjonsson, IFRC

The Japanese Red Cross Society is providing extensive support to the people affected by the 6.5 magnitude earthquake that struck Kumamoto prefecture at around 9.26 pm last night. According to Japanese broadcaster NHK, nine people were killed and more than 1,100 people were injured, most of them in Mashiki town and Kumamoto city. Eight people are still reported missing.

Local Red Cross chapters in the prefecture dispatched eight emergency medical teams to assist the earthquake victims. The local chapters distributed 5,000 blankets to people who had evacuated from their homes and are staying in emergency shelters due to continuing aftershocks. At least 16,000 people were reported to have been evacuated after the quake. The Red Cross also distributed 500 family emergency kits containing basic personal hygiene items. 200 sleeping mats with pillows and 200 tarpaulins were also distributed.

“The Japanese Red Cross Society is very well prepared to respond to disasters of this kind,” said Mr Akira Nakata, Deputy Director-General for Public Relations at the Japanese Red Cross Society. “We have 500 emergency medical teams located at branches all over Japan with a total of 7,000 medical and support personnel who are specifically trained in disaster response. These teams are always on standby and ready to respond to earthquakes and other disaster,” he said.

As of 14:40 Japan time, Kumamoto Red Cross Hospital had received 383 patients after the earthquake, around half of the people who were injured in the Kumamoto prefecture. Out of these, 366 people had suffered light or moderate injuries, while 15 people were seriously injured. Two of the patients brought to the hospital were fatally injured. There are 92 Red Cross hospitals in Japan, which is a unique feature of the Japanese Red Cross Society, and they play a key role in disaster response in the country.

Aftershocks continue to be felt in Kumamoto today and the damage resulting from the earthquake is still being assessed. “While the earthquake has resulted in tragic loss of life and many injuries, it was small compared to the big disasters that Japan experienced previously,” said Mr Nakata. “However, for those who are most seriously affected an event like this can be a very traumatic experience, and our emergency teams will be providing psychosocial support to those who need it.”

Thousands of people are still in evacuation centres and for many of those who were badly injured or lost their loved ones in the disaster, it may take years to fully recover.