N.C. Baptists respond to quake, tsunami
    March 11 2011 by Susie Rain, Baptist Press

    TOKYO — A massive earthquake hit northeast Japan March 11, triggering tsunamis throughout the region.

    A massive wall of water swept away cars, ships and even buildings after the 8.8-magnitude earthquake. It struck about 250 miles from Tokyo.

    Death and casualty tolls continue to rise as the nation begins to dig out amid a rash of aftershocks.

    A spokesperson with the International Mission Board (IMB) in Asia confirmed that all personnel in Japan are accounted for and suffered no injuries.

     Within hours of the quake the Japan Baptist Convention contacted Rescue 24 to request disaster relief assistance. North Carolina Baptist Men is part of Rescue 24. A N.C. Baptist Men search and rescue team flew out of Raleigh March 11 to respond.

    This team will be working with another from Hungarian Baptist Aid in initial assessment. N.C. Baptist Men expect to send a number of teams to help with relief efforts.

    The tremor hit around 2:46 p.m. local time. Seismologists said it is the largest earthquake to hit Japan and the seventh largest to be recorded, according to the U.S. Geological Survey data.

    Tsunami warnings have extended to the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Pacific coast of Russia and Hawaii.

    Southern Baptist missionary Cornelia Walker was in her family’s 10th-floor apartment when the quake hit, buckling the road in front of her home.

    “It was rather scary to be in the hallway, with hands against the walls while things fell in the dining area and kitchen,” Walker told Baptist Press. “We went downstairs to the yard with other folks and checked in with a few of the older people next door.

    “Everyone was scared but OK,” she said. “Japanese children were walking home from school with their earthquake hats on, and there are still sirens going off outside.”

    The quake rattled buildings and toppled cars off bridges and into waters underneath. Waves of debris flowed like lava across farmland, pushing boats, houses and trailers. All trains in the country have stopped, as well as all airports shut down.

    In Tokyo, crowds gathered in the streets and tried to reach relatives via cell phone but towers were down.

    International Mission Board personnel stayed in touch with families and friends via Internet.

    Missionary Mark Bennett used Facebook posts to let people know his family was safe.

    “The boys said their school had ‘cracks,’” Bennett said in one post. “The street in front of our house is buckled and tons of grey sand has filled the street. Utility poles down the street have fallen down but we still have water, electricity and Internet.”

    This quake was the latest in a series in the region the same week. Early March 10, an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.3 struck off the coast of Japan’s Honshu island.

    On March 9, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck near the same island. As aftershocks continue to rock the nation and other countries in the area, missionary Lana Oue asks friends to pray for continued safety.

    “There are still many strong aftershocks, so please continue to pray for safety,” Oue posted on Facebook. “Pray for our personnel and for the many Japanese people who have been affected.”

    An IMB assessment team will also evaluate and determine what response might be facilitated through local Japanese churches.

    Baptist Global Response, an international relief and development organization, told Baptist Press it has allocated $100,000 for an initial response and is in touch with partners in the region to assess immediate relief needs.

    If disaster relief specialists are needed, Baptist Global Response will mobilize teams from the Baptist state conventions on call, said Jeff Palmer, executive director of BGR.

    “We have notified our call-out states to be on standby,” Palmer said. If you would like to donate to the Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Fund, please make your check payable to N.C. Baptist Men, PO Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512. Designate on your check Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Fund.

    (EDITOR’S NOTE — Rain is a writer for the International Mission Board. Tess Rivers, also an IMB writer, contributed to this article. N.C. information was added from a N.C. Baptist Men e-mail.) 

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    3/11/2011 3:17:00 PM by Susie Rain, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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