American Red Cross mobilizes in wake of Japan disaster | International | -- Your State. Your News.

Jul 05th
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American Red Cross mobilizes in wake of Japan disaster

redcross011310_optBY BOB HOLT

The American Red Cross is recruiting help all over the world for earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan.

A powerful tsunami swept across a large area of northern Japan, flooding towns and sweeping away buildings. It was triggered by a 8.9-magnitude earthquake.

BBC News reports the quake was the fifth-largest in the world since 1900 and nearly 8,000 times stronger than the one which devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, last month, said scientists.

A tsunami warning was extended across the Pacific to North and South America, where many other coastal regions were evacuated.

American Red Cross chapters in the pacific islands of Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands and Guam as well as those on the west coast of the U.S. are on alert and ready to provide assistance as needed. reports that in Hawaii, evacuation centers (not managed by the Red Cross) were set up for people who left their homes. These centers provide a safe place outside of the evacuation zone for residents to gather, access a restroom and drinking water. The Hawaii Red Cross is staging cots and blankets across the islands in case shelters are needed.

Evacuation shelters are open with additional locations on standby in Oregon, Washington and California. The Red Cross is working closely with state officials in Hawaii and West Coast Emergency Operations Centers around activities such as sheltering and feeding.

According to, Aflac, a Columbus-based company that employs about 5,000 people in Japan has donated $1.2 million to disaster relief efforts. Aflac made the 100 million yen donation to the International Red Cross.

The Associated Press reports in northeastern Japan, the area around a nuclear power plant was evacuated after the reactor's cooling system failed and pressure began building inside.

Police said 200 to 300 bodies were found in the northeastern coastal city of Sendai, the city in Miyagi prefecture, or state, closest to the epicenter. Another 151 were confirmed killed, with 547 missing. Police also said 798 people were injured.

The magnitude-8.9 offshore quake triggered a 23-foot (seven-meter) tsunami and was followed for hours by more than 50 aftershocks, many of them more than magnitude 6.0.

A magnitude 6.6 quake has now struck in central Japan, causing Tokyo buildings to sway. It struck Japan's mountainous Niigata prefecture in the west of the main Honshu island at about 0400 Saturday (1900 GMT Friday).

It is worth noting that any seismic activity over 6.6 on the Richter scale is not an aftershock, but an earthquake.

The National chapter of the Red Cross is contacting volunteers with special skills, like speaking Japanese, to see if they could help.

If you have friends or family in Japan, the Red Cross can help you find out if they are ok, by calling 1-888-407-4747.

And Google has set up a website to help users find information about missing earthquake victims here.

The Red Cross is also accepting monetary donations for relief efforts. You can also find that information on their website, or you can make a $10 donation by texting "REDCROSS" to 90999.


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