World stands up to aid devastated Japan

Over 70 nations including Russia have sent their humanitarian missions to the tsunami torn Japan.

­Russia’s first plane with humanitarian aid has landed in Japan. It has carried 50 rescue workers, rescue equipment, blankets, water, food and portable generators.

Portable generators are now most sought after in Japan, which started experiencing electricity black-outs with tsunami hit nuclear stations. Japan’s government has announced that large parts of the country will be suffering power outages. Areas will be divided into groups and each one will have a three-hour blackout. It is all part of the plan to keep the country’s crippled electricity grid operational.

Moscow has also pledged to increase liquid gas, coal and electricity supplies to Tokyo as a part of its humanitarian efforts.

Russia has also sent a helicopter to take 25 more rescue workers to Japan. The helicopter will later join the US aircrafts which are already delivering supplies to various base camps in the devastated country.

Over 70 nations in total have sent personnel on Sunday to assist Japan in its response to the earthquakes and tsunami that have devastated the country.

Washington has sent two planes, the second one arriving later Monday. The two groups, formed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), include 150 rescuers and specially-trained dogs.

Fifteen Chinese rescuers came to Japan on Monday morning. The group consists of 15 people, possessing rich experience of work in quake-stricken areas, including other countries. This is the first case in which Japan has accepted such aid from China.

Rescue teams from Germany and Switzerland have also arrived in Japan. The German group includes 40 people, three specially-trained rescue dogs and over 15 tonnes of special equipment. Switzerland sent 25 people and nine sniffer dogs. The two groups went on Sunday to the area of the city of Minamisanriku, where over 10,000 people are considered missing.

­Chernobyl lessons learnt

­Russia is ready to dispatch experts in nuclear clean-ups in the wake of the blasts at Japanese nuclear facilities. The experts can offer the experience the country gained after the explosion at the Soviet plant in Chernobyl, which took place in 1986.

­A painful trip down memory lane. Aleksandr often goes to the thirty-kilometer Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine, but every visit evokes sad emotions. Twenty-five years ago, what is now the ghost town of Pripyat was his home, before the fallout from Chernobyl changed everything.

I often come here just to take photos,” says Aleksandr. “It still feels like home. I spent the best years of childhood here. Even those who have not been here before, feel the calm, so they want to come back here.

Aleksandr is one of hundreds of thousands, whose address changed after April 26, 1986.

The Troeshina is one of Kiev’s youngest districts. In the 1980’s houses sprung up here literally overnight. Many of those who had to leave their homes in the Chernobyl area found their home here. A total of 300,000 people had to be re-settled from the contaminated territory.

This new life came at a high price. For some reason, the Soviet authorities interfered with the evacuation from the contaminated zone. Fifty thousand Pripyat residents were subjected to a great deal of radiation.

The town’s former deputy mayor says this dreadful mistake was caused by the mass confusion which followed the blast.

Those who ask the questions don’t quite understand what it takes to evacuate as many as 50,000 people. It simply cannot be done in one hour or in two hours. We brought 300 buses here. We had to inform people, get them together. But in the first place we had to understand whether we really needed to evacuate the people. Even the specialists at the first stages did not know whether the reactors were destroyed”, says Aleksandr Esaulov, who was the deputy mayor of Pripyat from 1980-1986.

A quarter of a century since the disaster, the 30-kilometer area around the plant is a nuclear wasteland. The fallout period for radioactive particles is believed to last several thousand years, so this land will scarcely be inhabited ever again.

However, some were not put off by the radioactive threat and decided to return after the Soviet Union collapsed.

When I was moved to Kiev,” says Savva Obrazhevich, Chernobyl resident, “they gave me a flat and a miserable pension. Not enough to make a normal living. That’s why we returned – our home is here, we grow our own food here. Besides, nowadays more people come to the zone. Cars pass by all the time. Many stop and bring us some food or money.”

As the news of a nuclear incident at the Fukushima plant in Japan broke out, the first thing the authorities did was to evacuate residents within 20 kilometers of the facility. Twenty-five years ago, people of the affected area were less fortunate. The reaction of the Japanese government suggests that the lessons of Chernobyl have, decades later, been learned.

Leave a comment