Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Irish unharmed in Japanese disaster

Buildings have been devastated after a giant earthquake and tsunami struck Japan (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

Fears have eased that any Irish nationals may have been caught in the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said contact has been made with up to 10 people they had been concerned about.

It is believed none of the estimated 2,000 Irish people in the Asian country were injured or killed in the massive quake that sparked tsunami warnings across the Pacific.

However, Japanese authorities fear the death toll could be in the tens of thousands.

President Mary McAleese conveyed her sympathies to Emperor Akihito of Japan.

"On behalf of the people of Ireland and on my own behalf, I wish to convey to you and the people of Japan deepest sympathy on the tragic loss of so many lives in Friday's earthquake and tsunami which hit northern Japan," said Ms McAleese. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who are bereaved. We hope that those who have been injured will make a full and speedy recovery."

She went on: "I know that the task of tending to the injured and reconstructing what has been lost will be enormously challenging and difficult for your country. "However, I have no doubt that the resilience of the Japanese people will overcome this terrible setback.

"As a friend of Japan, Ireland is steadfast in its solidarity with you and your people at this most difficult time."

Meanwhile Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore said the Government has offered its support to the Red Cross relief operation in Japan. He revealed his department had been in close contact with the Japanese government, the Red Cross and the United Nations and that the Irish Aid Rapid Response Corps and emergency stockpiles in Malaysia were available for immediate dispatch if required.

"While Japan is probably the best-prepared country in the world for a major disaster, this crisis is of an unprecedented magnitude," said Mr Gilmore. "The Japanese Red Cross is working with the communities most-affected by the disaster and are providing vital emergency relief."

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