JICA sending emergency supplies to Laos and Bhutan to help natural disaster victims
After causing widespread havoc and destruction in the Philippines and then Viet Nam in early October, typhoon Ketsana later smashed into Laos where at least 11 persons were reported dead, an estimated 170,000 were badly injured.
The typhoon triggered the worst flooding in recent memory in the southern part of the country where schools, irrigation systems and hundreds of homes were inundated and then collapsed.
JICA said it was sending blankets, plastic sheeting, water purifiers and storage tanks from its central warehouse in Singapore, first by air to Bangkok and then by road to the Lao capital of Vientiane to help survivors of the storms.
The Himalayan nation of Bhutan suffered enormous damage when an earthquake struck parts of the country in late September toppling schools, hospitals, temples, government offices and thousands of homes. At least 12 persons were killed and nearly 50 injured.
Once the extent of the damage from remote areas became known, the Bhutan government asked for assistance and JICA announced that tents, blankets, sleeping pads and plastic sheeting were being sent from India by road to the mountain state.
The latest operations were part of one of the busiest periods in the history of the Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) system since its infancy in the 1970s when Tokyo began to respond to natural disasters around the world.
JDR is a network of official and civilian Japanese agencies, experts and volunteers, including JICA which, between them, are able to provide rescue, medical, logistical and other assistance, often within hours of natural disasters such as earthquakes, typhoons or flooding.
During a particularly devastating period of catastrophic weather patterns in recent weeks, JICA sent rescue and medical teams to the Indonesian island of Sumatra after hundreds of persons were killed by a 7.6 magnitude earthquake which struck on September 30. The agency followed up the emergency phase with the announced dispatch of a fresh team of experts which will assess the region's needs for reconstruction.
Other emergency supplies were sent to the Philippines and Viet Nam in the wake of typhoon Ketsana, to the Samoan islands after 15-foot high waves inundated parts of those islands and to Papua New Guinea which has been fighting an outbreak of several infectious diseases including cholera and dysentery, triggered in part by severe bad weather there.