Japanese search teams head home to their own crisis
NZPA March 12, 2011, 11:46 am
The Japanese search and rescue team headed back to a crisis in their own country today after being thanked for helping out in one of the worst natural disasters to hit New Zealand.
Hours after news of the magnitude 8.9 earthquake and huge tsunami in Japan, the team brought forward its departure time to get back to Japan.
Civil Defence national controller Steve Brazier thanked the team members for their efforts to help with Christchurch rescue efforts after the February 22 earthquake flattened much of the central business district and damaged thousands of houses beyond repair and killed more than 160 people.
Mr Brazer also sent his condolences to Japan.
"The Japanese urban search and rescue team made an invaluable contribution to the earthquake rescue effort. They came to New Zealand without hesitation and worked tirelessly over the past two-and-a-half weeks. We are immensely grateful for their efforts.
"My thoughts go out to all the people of Japan at this time," he said.
Japan sent 66 urban search and rescue team members and three specialist search and rescue dogs to Christchurch within two days of the earthquake.
They immediately went to work in a multi-agency response to the collapse of the CTV building on Madras St. Many people trapped in the building were Japanese and other foreign English language students.
The first team was followed by two rotations of 29 staff each. They were part of international teams working on sites within the four avenues and later worked in Sumner and Redcliffs to assist local communities.