Japan struggling amid food, water shortages, radiation leak

08:14, March 16, 2011      

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Tens of thousands of Japanese and foreign workers are racing against time to rescue survivors four days after the historic 9.0-magnitude earthquake devastated northeast Japan and an ensuing tsunami engulfed many coastal cities in the region.

The Japanese government has sent 100,000 troops to lead the aid effort. It has sent 120,000 blankets, 120,000 bottles of water and 110,000 liters of gasoline plus food to the affected areas.

The Japan Self Defense Forces, firemen, and police from all over the country were mobilized to search for survivors and dig out bodies.

"We are still focusing on searching for the survivors," said Wataru Suzuki, a fireman from the fire department of Osaki, Miyagi prefecture. He said it is hopelessly difficult as there are too many missing people.

The firemen used hand picks and chain saws to clear away mounds of broken timber, plastic sheets, roofs, sludge, twisted cars, tangled power-lines and household goods. Meanwhile, ambulances were on standby, and helicopters were patrolling the area.

A 15-member Chinese international search and rescue team Monday morning set out to join the relief work in Ofunato, Iwate, a densely populated coastal city severely hit by the earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

The Chinese team is one of the first overseas groups to join and help out with relief work in the city. Team leader Yin Guanghui said they have brought along life exploration devices and other equipment to help with the rescue.

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