Sixty-six Japanese USAR crew with three specialist dogs were working the rubble in Christchurch's central business district just two days after the February 22 quake reduced our inner city to a third of its original building footprint. The initial Japanese response team was followed by two 29-crew rotations.
The Japanese teams worked one of the most devastated sites; the six-storied CTV building, home to an English language school (among several other businesses), where up to 30 Japanese students were believed to have been at the time of the quake. One exceptionally brave and collected young Japanese man guided rescuers to others from where he lay trapped beneath concrete and steel, before undergoing a field-amputation to be freed himself. All this while the building burned, then smouldered and while the pancaked remains sifted with each aftershock.
|Working together at the CTV building site, Christchurch, NZ|
Photo via akl.stuff.co.nz
One hundred people representing many nationalities are believed to have lost their lives in the collapsed CTV building; the greatest loss of life in one place.
And now those incredible Japanese teams that helped pick through the ruins until the CTV site was all but cleared are faced with the resulting horror of an earthquake that was 1,000 times more powerful than the 6.3 magnitude quake that struck Christchurch.
What can you do but wish them well? They go with our immense gratitude, heartfelt thanks and prayers.
New Zealand's 48-crew USAR team will reach Japan on Sunday.