Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Update - Tuesday, March 15, 2011

News and Press Release
Originally published



Key Concerns:

- Japan is dealing with three consecutive emergencies: earthquake, tsunami and the threat of nuclear radiation

- Situation at Daiichi plant site remains critical. There are significant concerns of a possible meltdown at Unit No.2 at Daiichi nuclear power plant and of a possible meltdown at Unit No. 3. There has also been another explosion involving Unit No. 4.

- Radiation levels have reached harmful levels within the evacuation zone. GoJ has ordered a no-fly zone some 30 km around the plant.

- According to the UN, Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered a shift in focus from rescue activities to the provision of essential items to affected areas.

- Around 416,300 people have been evacuated from affected provinces. More than 550,000 are in temporary shelters and are in need of additional food, water, blankets, and sanitation facilities. Due to disruption in gas and electrical supplies, dropping temperatures are also exacerbating problems in the shelters.

- Transportation systems are still paralyzed, but the GoJ is making progress to restore key roads, bridges and railways, according to the UN.

- The threat of continued aftershocks and tsunamis continues to affect emergency operations in affected areas

- Search and Rescue remains the priority in affected areas, but operations remain hampered by lack of access as well as by continuing aftershocks and tsunamis. Many communities remain stranded due to tsunami inundation. Conditions are exacerbated by cold weather. Snow and rain is forecast from the evening of March 15 until March 17 in affected areas.

- Access to water in affected areas is a concern due to water contamination and salination. According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, some 1.4 million households in 14 prefectures have no access to water.

- According to the UN, the main humanitarian needs are food, drinking water, blankets, fuel, latrines and medical supplies. GoJ said that food drops have begun in affected areas on Monday.