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Korean teams continue quake aid

Buddhist and Protestant teams overcome transport and supply problems

Korean teams continue quake aid
Earthquake-hit Yumoto Catholic Church, Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture (photo: Diocese of Saitama)
Stephen Hong, Seoul

March 21, 2011

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One of two teams bringing emergency aid from Korea to quake-hit northeast Japan has returned at the end of its first mision while the second continues its work. The Protestant seven-member emergency aid team that was sent to the worst hit area, Sendai, on March 12 by Korean Church Relief (KCR) returned to Seoul on March 19 after having delivered 35 million won (some US$30,000) worth of aid goods to Japanese refugees. Reverend Cho Hyun-sam, head of the KCR team, said that it was very hard to buy the aid goods in Japan as it has been suffering from serious lack of food and water after the largest earthquake ever recorded in the country. But they were able to obtain the goods from a Korean businessman in Tokyo and deliver them to a refugee center in Sendai where some 1,150 people take shelter. People at the center thanked the Korean team, saying they were the first foreign aid team that had brought food for them. The Korean Buddhists’ Foundation for Social Welfare has also sent an advance team of five rescuers, which left March 15. But it took three days for them to arrive at their destination, Sendai, due to the broken roads and the threat of radioactivity. The Buddhist team is now staying at a Buddhist's house in Sendai and is discussing with local organizations how to support aid work and rehabilitation efforts there. According to the advance team, since Sendai is located within 100 kilometers from the Fukushima Nuclear Plant, the fear of radioactivity is now extreme. The team also said that it is hard to even provide support with the most basic food and necessities, not to mention relief work, adding that the bodies of the victims have not been collected due to the lack of rescuers. Venerable Myojang, head of the team, said Sendai has experienced some 280 aftershocks, and electricity and water supplies have been cut since the quake. Nevertheless, "we, the advance team, will prepare well for the full-scale aid work here," he added. Meanwhile, Caritas Corea, the Korean bishops’ social welfare arm, has already sent US$100,000 in emergency aid to Caritas Japan. and the Salvation Army Korea Territory also has shipped aid goods to Japan last Saturday. KO13691.1646

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