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Tánaiste offers Irish assistance to relief effort in Japan

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore TD, has offered Government support to the Red Cross relief operation in Japan following Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The Japanese Red Cross mobilised 62 response teams in the hours immediately following the disaster and has nearly 400 doctors, nurses and support staff providing assistance in affected areas through mobile medical clinics. 

They have distributed more than 30,000 blankets to 300,000 people who were evacuated before the tsunami struck and are housed in temporary shelters set up in schools and public buildings.

The Tánaiste said the Department of Foreign Affairs had been in close contact with the Japanese government, the Red Cross and the United Nations today and yesterday. The Irish embassy in Tokyo has been in contact with Irish citizens in the affected areas to ensure they are safe and unharmed. 

“While Japan is probably the best-prepared country in the world for a major disaster, this crisis is of an unprecedented magnitude” the Tánaiste said.

“The Japanese Red Cross is working with the communities most-affected by the disaster and are providing vital emergency relief. Our embassy in Tokyo is in contact with them and with the Japanese government and we have offered our assistance. We are also in contact with the United Nations, who have sent a Disaster Assessment Team to Japan.

“The Irish Aid Rapid Response Corps and our emergency stockpiles in Malaysia are available for immediate dispatch as required. However, the Japanese government has told us that for now they have sufficient personnel and relief supplies. I have asked our Ambassador in Tokyo to continue to keep in touch with the relief operation.”