An emergency aid team of Buddhists from South Korea is heading for Japan, following on the heels of a Protestant group which departed a day after last Friday's devastating earthquake and a state team that left Monday. The Korean Buddhists' Foundation for Social Welfare sent the advance team of five rescuers to Ibaraki prefecture to assess damage and prepare to begin full-scale aid work there. For five days, the advance team will gauge the situation there and make a detailed plan for necessary goods, medical support and manpower supply before the full-scale aid work. There has been a drive to help Japan across South Korea, with clergy encouraging people to forget the historical animosity between the neighbours and pray for and help people suffering after the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan. The Korean (Protestant) Church Relief (KCR) sent its seven-member emergency aid team to the worst hit area, Sendai, on March 12. Reverend Cho Hyun-sam, head of the KCR team, has taken stock of their aid activity and the situation in Sendai, according to Reverend Sung Back-chul of KCR. Reverend Cho said radioactivity has increased a little bit more than usual in Sendai but is not at an alarming level yet. Moreover, the Korean government's rescue team dispatched on Monday has been checking frequently his team members' radioactivity with a radiation detector, Reverend Cho added. He continued that his aid team also has helped Japanese rescuers to rescue some 50 old people isolated at a nursing home and is now working in a town where 10,000 among the population of 17,000 are missing. Police said Wednesday that 3,676 people are confirmed dead, with more than 7,500 still missing, in northern Japan where the 9.0-magnitude quake struck. A 6.0 tremor was reported Wednesday, shaking buildings as far away as Tokyo, but there were no reports of further casualties. Reverend Cho said his team bought 35 million won (some US$30,000) worth of aid goods in Tokyo and they will go back to Seoul after they distribute the goods to victims. Meanwhile, Caritas Corea, the Korean bishops' social welfare arm, said they are planning to deal with these situations in the mid and long term, in close cooperation with Caritas Japan. KO13654
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