March 16, 2011

Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Victims Desperate Bid To Get Supplies! Send A HELICOPTER With Supplies! They Need Food, Water And Warm Blankets!

The Telegraph UK
written by Julian Ryall in Ishinomaki, northern Japan
Tuesday March 15, 2011 at 8:49PM GMT

No Japanese would ever think of themselves as a looter, but the people of Ishinomaki are scouring the shelves of shattered supermarkets and 24-hour stores for the food they need to survive.

Four days after the tsunami triggered by the magnitude 10 earthquake struck this town of 162,882 people, not nearly enough food, water or medical assistance is getting through to those who survived. And with no petrol for them to leave, they have no choice but to scavenge.

Two men are loading bags of food into a wheelchair inside a Yoko Beriman supermarket on the outskirts of the city. They smile the nervous, self-effacing smile of people caught doing wrong, but continue to push their shopping through the deep mud that has pooled inside the building after the tsunami.

The smell inside the building is a combination of leaking fuel, putrefying vegetables and salty mud. The shelves were all piled together by the force of the tsunami and hungry local people are prying them apart to try to find anything edible. Tinned foods are apparently much in demand, along with dried food and drinks of any description.

I approach a woman climbing out through the broken glass of the door with a basket of jars of food, but she gives a quick bow and an apologetic smile and scurries away in the other direction.

A man stands guard over a dozen eggs that he has salvaged from the building; another man carries away two bottles of water in the front basket of his bicycle. People and produce alike are smeared with mud. Piled up around the walls of the building are cars that belonged to shoppers when the tidal wave rolled in from the sea, more than 1.5km distant.

Beyond the store, the road has collapsed and taken a large truck with it. The road into the town is ankle-deep in mud and strewn with debris. Two men are liberating cans of beer and bottles of sake from an off licence.

Restaurants are shuttered, plywood has been affixed over the doors of convenience stores to deter looters and the forecourts of car dealerships have been taken over by the military for their trucks, jeeps and communications vehicles.

But with a huge area of northern Japan affected by the earthquake and the tsunami, as well as being intensely complicated by the leak of radioactivity from the nuclear plant in Fukushima, some 170km to the south, the Japanese government is not able to help everyone who needs it.

"It was OK for the first two days as most people had some food in their own homes, but when that ran out there was not much left," Shuichi Kawarda, an official at the city office, told The Daily Telegraph. "We have been trying to feed babies and children and the elderly first, but there is not enough to go around. For two days, the staff here had no food. And when we did receive some, there was only enough to share one can of drink between three people."

"We have been told more is coming in and I hope that is right."

The city hall has also been informed that people are helping themselves to food in the town's supermarkets.

"Yes, we have heard of that," admits Kawarada. "We do not know how to handle it as the police have not given us any instructions."

City authorities have confirmed that 425 people are dead, 1,693 remain missing and nearly 40,000 have lost their homes.

Elsewhere, there are reports of motorists getting into fist fights as they wait in lines of 100 or more cars for a ration of petrol. That is not happening in Ishinomaki because there is no fuel to fight over. But if food does not start to flow into this town – and doubtless many others up and down the coast – then there may well be a complete breakdown in the tight-knit society that has been nurtured in the coastal towns of Japan's Pacific coast.

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