Australia to send emergency team to help quake-hit Japan

Updated: 2011-03-12 10:36


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CANBERRA - Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd on Saturday announced that it will send a team of emergency workers and sniffer dogs to help Japan cope with the massive earthquake and tsunami.

A great 8.8-magnitude earthquake hit Japan on Friday, unleashing a 10-meter high tsunami that did extensive damage.

Rudd said that the emergency team will fly out of Australia and to arrive in Japan by Saturday evening.

"They have made a request of us for specialist teams including sniffer dogs and that has been conveyed to the relevant emergency authorities here within our country," he told reporters in Canberra.

"Australia is ready to throw anything as is required (to help in this emergency).... We will throw everything at it," he said.

Eleven thousand Australians live in Japan, mainly around Tokyo and Osaka, and Australian embassy to Japan has been working to contact Australians already in the country to make sure they are safe.

Rudd said that contact had been made with all prefectures except Miyagi, where the danger and damage has been the greatest.

Communications in Sendai, where the tsunami hit, were severely degraded, and Rudd said that he is "deeply worried" about Australians who are living in Sendai, which is popular with English language teachers.

There are no reported Australian injuries or deaths so far.

Earlier, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard expressed " very sincere condolences" to Japan, calling images of the destruction that are being beamed across the world "truly shocking ".

"It is really very apparent that the Japanese people have been dealt an incredibly cruel blow by the earthquake and the tsunami following it," she told ABC News.

"This is a terrible, terrible natural disaster. It's going to be a very, very stressing, difficult, tragic time for our friends in Japan. We'll stand by them and we'll do anything we can to assist," he added.


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