23 March 2011
The South African search and rescue team in have had their hands full in helping to search for survivors after Japan’s devastating tsunami.
The 50-strong team and their rescue dogs helped to pull survivors and countless dead out of the rubble at Natori City, north of Tokyo, on Tuesday.
Relief efforts are continuing weeks after a tsunami, which was triggered by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake, despite freezing winds, hail storms and thick snow, with temperatures forecast to plunge to -5C (23F).
More than 13 000 people are estimated to be missing following the disaster.
The nation has seen entire villages and towns wiped off the map by a wall of water, leaving in its wake an international humanitarian effort of epic proportion.
On Twitter on Tuesday night, the Rescue SA team said they were back from Natori City.
“Used two inflatable boats to search flooded rice paddy. The water was, how shall we say this: freezing!” they tweeted.
According to The Star, part of the team’s mission was to search for victims in a flooded rice paddy, using inflatable rescue canoes, specialised crowbars and a search camera nicknamed “the mongoose”.
“Rescue SA is the only team able to search in water, as other international teams don’t have the specialist equipment and skills needed,” The Star’s Jennifer Bruce reported.
“Divers cannot be used as the water is freezing and contaminated.”
Bruce reports that the gratitude for the team’s work from the locals is evident – “the team are often stopped, and though the language barrier makes communication difficult, hands delicately placed together and heads bowed say it all.”
SAinfo reporter and BuaNews