The destruction wrought by the Tsunami in Japan has been tremendous. While the threat of nuclear disaster has dominated headlines, more than two weeks after the tsunami the humanitarian crisis continues as well. Former NECSI researcher, physician Muneichi Shibata offers a firsthand account of conditions in the stricken areas and the hurdles to improving them:
"I'm alive and still working for survivors in Miyagi Prefecture. I haven’t suffered from the Tsunami, but I experienced the most severe seismic intensity, Japanese Shindo earthquake scale 7 in Kurihara City. The Tsunami was like an atomic bomb; it brought catastrophic damage to the coast and has generated large numbers of evacuees. We are intervening with refugees to improve their environment through medical examination to prevent 'economy class syndrome.'*
The nuclear plant crisis is also a big problem that hinders recovery of the damaged area. There is an insufficient supply of gasoline, which is like a kind of leg irons. The Tsunami destroyed oil tanks, oil plants and nuclear plants. Radiation exposure is not very serious so far.
Recovery of electricity, water supply, and gas is still in process in the coastal areas. Lack of a water supply makes for poor sanitation. We are facing an outbreak of infectious disease in the shelter. Dirty toilets force people to suppress their intake of water to reduce urination at night. Blood becomes denser. Physical activity is also decreasing in the chilly shelter. Prevention of shelter death: this is our task."
* "Economy class syndrome" refers to deep vein thrombosis (serious blood clotting in a deep vein sometimes experienced by airline travelers), which can result from dehydration and lack of movement.
The remains of Minami Sanriku, a small town in Miyagi prefecture
A local hospital
The first floor of a shelter. Evacuees live on the second and third floors.
The living area of a shelter in Minami Sanriku