Thursday 14 December 2017

Ireland provides quake aid

Irish taxpayers are providing €1m in funding to help the Red Cross operation in earthquake-devastated Japan.

As attempts continue to tackle the nuclear crisis, relief workers were frantically working to help people left injured or homeless.

Eamon Gilmore, Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, said the Japanese government had appealed for help from EU countries.

"Japan is effectively dealing with three crises in one, with the earthquake, tsunami and the ongoing nuclear emergency," Mr Gilmore said.

"Japan's disaster response capability has been stretched to the limit by the sheer scale of the emergency and they have appealed to the EU for help.

"Under these circumstances the Government has agreed to provide one million euro, which will be targeted at providing relief for people left injured or homeless by the disaster."

The Japanese Red Cross has deployed 84 mobile medical teams with 735 staff to the areas left devastated.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said none of the estimated 2,000 Irish citizens in Japan when the earthquake struck last Friday were injured.

Officials are warning against non-essential travel there in the wake of the disaster and the crisis facing the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

"An evacuation order is currently in place for 20km around the plant," a statement on the Department's website said.

"Following the third explosion (at the plant) on 15 March, the Japanese authorities announced that residents between 20-30 kilometres of the facility should remain indoors, keep windows and doors closed and not use ventilation. The Department of Foreign Affairs advises against all travel to this area."

More than 500,000 people have been made homeless in and a massive aid effort is under way as aftershocks continue.

Diplomats have advised people in the north-east and Tokyo regions to question their need to remain, especially those with young children.

They said those looking to leave should make a travel reservation as soon as possible. Narita Airport in Tokyo has reopened, though flights face disruption.

Jan O'Sullivan, junior minister for trade and overseas development, said the Japanese Government had also asked the EU for blankets, mattresses and water tanks.

She said Irish Aid had made available its stockpiles in both Subang, Malaysia, and Dubai, with officials liaising with their EU counterparts to assess how the supplies could be included in an EU airlift to the stricken areas.

"The impact of the disaster is being exacerbated by a combination of aftershocks, smaller-scale tsunamis and winter weather," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"The Japanese Government has asked the EU not to send additional emergency or medical personnel, but to provide funding for the Red Cross and emergency supplies.

"We are in ongoing contact with the EU and the United Nations to assess how Ireland's emergency stockpiles might contribute to the relief operation."

Meanwhile Galway City Council has opened books of condolences for the thousands of victims.

Press Association

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