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