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UMCOR Assesses Response to Pacific Emergency

March 11, 2011 — The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is connecting with partners to assess damages and needs resulting from the powerful 8.9-magnitude earthquake and 33-foot-high tsunami that rocked Japan today.

As the tidal wave rolls across the Pacific, tsunami warnings have been issued throughout the region, from Japan to Chile. Small islands are in danger of being completely covered by the tidal wave, and developing countries are especially vulnerable, a Red Cross spokesperson told Reuters news agency.

The quake hit in the middle of the afternoon, at 2:46 Tokyo time, just off of Honshu, Japan’s most populous island. It is the strongest earthquake to hit Japan in the 140 years that records have been kept. It takes the place of last year’s earthquake in Chile as the fifth strongest ever anywhere in the world.

“UMCOR is closely monitoring the unfolding situation in the Pacific,” said Melissa Crutchfield, UMCOR executive for International Disaster Response.

“We’re in contact with our partners in the region, mindful of the still developing emergency in Japan as well as of the risk to other countries, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, and to Hawaii, which are expected to be impacted by the tsunami,” she said.

UMCOR head, the Rev. Cynthia Fierro Harvey, urged prayers for those affected by the disaster. She said that as needs become clarified, UMCOR will respond.

“Once again, in the wake of disaster and in the face of widespread need, we rely on the ever expansive generosity of United Methodists and all people of goodwill to help us respond to those whose lives have suddenly been turned upside down,” she said.

So far, 300 deaths have been reported in Japan, but as relief and recovery efforts get underway, the number of deaths and injured is expected to rise much higher.

The 33-foot tsunami barged into the port of Sendai in northeastern Japan, pushing buildings, cars, ships—everything in its path, far inland. In Tokyo, the quake disrupted electricity and ground and air transportation— and sent people fleeing from office buildings and homes for the safety of parks and other open areas.

Your support for Pacific Emergency, UMCOR Advance #3021317, is urgently needed. Please give now.