British team helps rescue operation
British efforts to help Japan are gathering pace as specialist teams begin their work in the country following the devastating earthquake and tsunami.
A search and rescue team organised by the Department for International Development (DfID) has arrived at its base 20km outside Ofunato in the north east, where they are due to join in the international search for survivors at first light.
The group, made up of 63 UK fire service search and rescue specialists, two rescue dogs and a medical support team, are set to work alongside American counterparts and co-ordinate their operation with local teams.
Meanwhile, 12 Britons and two New Zealanders from the International Rescue Corps (IRC) are in place to assist in the humanitarian effort.
The multi-skilled team, whose British members are drawn from across the UK, will be put to use as Japanese authorities see fit, a spokesman for the IRC said.
International disaster relief charity ShelterBox has also dispatched a team to Sendai, near the epicentre of Friday's massive earthquake, where they are assessing the need for emergency shelter.
An initial shipment of 200 of the charity's boxes, which would provide shelter for 2,000 people, is on its way from the UK and a further 5,000 boxes are on stand-by.
Each box contains a large tent for an extended family, a tool kit, blankets and water purification equipment.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron has said there are "severe concerns" about Britons still missing in Japan after the disaster. Around 17,000 UK nationals are known to have been in Japan at the time the catastrophic quake struck, and fears remain that some of them may be among the tens of thousands believed killed.
The Foreign Office's emergency helpline has been contacted by around 4,700 worried relatives and friends seeking news of loved ones. Concerned friends and relatives of British nationals should contact the Foreign Office on the special number 020 7008 0000.