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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Quake know-how aid for Japan

Last updated 05:00 23/04/2011
Japanese students will soon be shovelling mud out of battered homes as Canterbury's Student Volunteer Army goes global.

Two student army volunteers will leave today for Tokyo to set up a Japanese version of the Canterbury project.

Nearly 28,000 people are dead or missing after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami that left Japan's northeast coast in ruins last month.

Sam Johnson, leader of the Student Volunteer Army, said he and volunteer Jason Pemberton would be in Japan for two weeks to implement a large-scale cleanup programme similar to the Christchurch operation.

"I am really excited, but nervous," he said. "I am really humbled by it and the fact we get to try it again over there.

"We are going over there to impart our knowledge and to enable them to use the same system. It might not work, but we are hoping it will."

Hundreds of Canterbury University students, armed with wheelbarrows and spades, banded together after Christchurch's September and February earthquakes to help clear liquefaction from streets and properties.

"We'll be teaching students how we ran the army and train them to act as administrators and directors so they can run it themselves," Johnson said.

One of the first jobs would be to help clean mud out of Ishinomaki houses, he said.

"It's especially satisfying to know that we will be assisting people from a country that sent rescue crews to aid Christchurch," he said.

The student army was invited to Japan by Global Dirt (Disaster Immediate Response Team), which was contracted by the United Nations to measure radiation levels, Johnson said.

The organisation had been in Christchurch helping after February's earthquake and had met Student Volunteer Army members, he said.

Global Dirt president Adam Marlatt said he contacted the student army because the project was a huge success and a valuable resource.

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