Saturday, March 12, 2011

Flying home to chaos

The Japanese Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team departed Christchurch today for their homeland.  For team members anxious for news of family and friends, it will be the longest flight.

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

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.


Tattie Weasle said...

Wishing them a safe journey home and hopign that their families are safe too...for all I can do is wish...

Miss Whistle said...

The whole thing is heartbreaking. A thousand times more powerful -- it's so hard to get one's head around.

Thinking of you.

Miss W

Michelle Trusttum said...

Tattie - yes, it's so overwhelming it's easy to feel completely helpless. But I know I found reading the heartfelt comments of well-wishers from all over the world after our recent events very moving. Knowing people care is huge. x

Miss W - isn't it all mind-boggling? I read today (from the same source) that the Japanese quake packed more than 8,000 times the energy of our February one. I'm not sure if energy and power are interchangeable in seismology. There are so many variables, but at the end of the day, it's just bad, bad and more bad!

Lovely to hear from you. x