Second Japan quake in two days – ShelterBox teams on tsunami alert

Japan136ae59a2bf_Japan second quake 2016 - map


Response teams in Fiji have been put on tsunami alert as Japan was struck by a second major earthquake yesterday. The death toll from both quakes has now risen to at least eighteen, and troops are searching for people feared trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings

A second, more severe earthquake struck southern Japan in the early hours of Saturday morning. It came as aid workers and troops were searching for survivors of a magnitude 6.4 quake that occurred on Thursday evening.

This latest shock measured 7.3 on the Richter scale, and the number of dead has now doubled to an estimated eighteen, and is expected to climb further. It has triggered the collapse of a dam, and caused volcanic activity at Mt Aso. However, Japan’s nuclear authority said the Sendai nuclear plant was not damaged, and an earlier tsunami warning has now been stood down.

20,000 troops have been deployed across the Kyushu region, roads have been damaged, and serious landslides have been reported. Around 200,000 households are now without power, and heavy rains bring fears of mudslides.

Disaster relief agency ShelterBox is monitoring the situation, in the wake of recent quakes over the last week in Myanmar, Afghanistan and the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. All this seismic activity across Asia and the Pacific has put the area on heightened tsunami watch. ShelterBox currently has teams in Fiji responding to two cyclones that have flattened buildings and drawn an international aid response.

ShelterBox Operations Team Lead James Luxton says, ‘There has been no request by the Japanese government yet for international support. If it does come ShelterBox has response teams on standby, and aid prepositioned across SE Asia, Australia and New Zealand, so we are ready to act rapidly.’

‘The US and UK governments have also offered support directly to the Japanese government, so we will see if any is accepted at that level. There is considerable seismic activity currently in the region, but fortunately none of these events has yet resulted in a tsunami. There was a tsunami advisory warning associated with the latest quake, but this has since been lifted.’

‘We monitor the tsunami prediction services to ensure we know as early as possible if there is any tsunami risk. Our teams in Fiji are selecting accommodation which is elevated from sea level to mitigate against this risk to themselves.’

Most of those who died in Thursday’s quake were in the town of Mashiki where more than 1,000 people were injured. Around 40,000 people initially fled their homes, with many spending the night outdoors. This morning’s quake happened as more than 130 aftershocks from the first earthquake had rocked the area.

ShelterBox was one of the major aid responders to Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in 2011, distributing over 1,500 ShelterBoxes and 10,000 sets of winter clothing. 11 March 2016 marked the fifth anniversary of that event, which claimed 19,000 lives.

Japan Earthquake Remembered



On March 11, 2011 a massive earthquake, measuring 8.9 in magnitude, struck off the northeastern coast of Japan. 
The earthquake triggered a 10 metre high tsunami that caused massive destruction across the districts of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate.
Around 19,000 people died and half a million were left homeless. 210,000 people were evacuated from the area around the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was damaged during the tsunami, and many were left without proper shelter, water, food or heat for days.
 The scale of the devastation was so enormous that the Japanese government called for international assistance. Within a day, ShelterBox had sent a response team, made of volunteers from Australia, France and the US, to the country, where we were one of the first aid organisations to arrive.
Four days later, the first ShelterBoxes arrived in Japan and the response team worked with the British Embassy and the British and US military to help deliver shelter to families without homes.
The team faced damaged roads, power failures, deep snow and plummeting temperatures. However, local Rotarians and authorities provided vital logistical support to help them respond quickly and efficiently.

This slideshow reveals the extent of the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and also shows some of the communities we were able to provide with ShelterBox aid.

Thanks to all of our supporters, we were able to deliver 1,680 ShelterBoxes, giving shelter and a sense of normality to thousands of families across Japan. Thank you.

Video: Japan 3 Years On

JAPAN. MARCH 2011. ShelterBox focused its relief efforts in the northeast of Japan bringing emergency shelter and other essential aid to nearly 1,700 families. (ShelterBox)

JAPAN. MARCH 2011. ShelterBox focused its relief efforts in the northeast of Japan bringing emergency shelter and other essential aid to nearly 1,700 families. (ShelterBox)


On 11 March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck 120 kilometres off Japan’s northeastern coast, triggering a massive tsunami that caused catastrophic scenes of destruction across the districts of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. Around 19,000 people lost their lives and about half a million were made homeless. 
ShelterBox responded within 24 hours by having a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) on the ground assessing the situation, and after several weeks, had distributed aid for tens of thousands of people.
This video highlights some of the ways ShelterBox helped support communities who had lost their homes. It includes commentary from SRT volunteer Chris Alderson, who lives in Japan and acted as a guide and translator for ShelterBox in the aftermath of the disaster.
Three years on, ShelterBox remembers those people affected by the disaster and would like to thanks its supporters once again for uniting to help bring emergency aid to these families.


Earthquakes Rumble Around the World

ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Phil Duloy at work in the ShelterBox Operations office.

ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Phil Duloy at work in the ShelterBox Operations office.

According to the US Geological Survey there are approximately 1,000,000 earthquakes around the world every year. Of these 1,000,000, approximately 1 in 10 is large enough to be felt by humans, meaning that on any given day there will be an average of 275 earthquakes large enough to be felt by populations around the world. 

Sadly many are not just large enough to be ‘felt’ by humans but are large enough to destroy entire communities as was the case on 11 March 2011 when an 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck north-east Japan. The ensuing drama saw Japan suffer devastating consequences from the most powerful earthquake since records began and further devastation caused by the resulting Tsunami. ShelterBox was quick to respond then and helped deliver aid to families in their moment of need.

Yesterday a 5.8 earthquake struck the same region of Japan but thankfully little damage occurred as a result. The Meteorological Agency issued a statement saying that it had ‘detected no significant elevation in the island’s volcanic activity and that there was no danger of a tsunami.’

The earthquake in Japan is the most recent in a string of widely publicised earthquakes which includes a 6.8 magnitude quake which struck the northern coast of Papua New Guinea and a separate 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck the border between Iran and Pakistan all on the same day.

ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Phil Duloy at work in the ShelterBox Operations office.

ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Phil Duloy at work in the ShelterBox Operations office.

The ShelterBox Operations team monitors and prepares for disaster events such as these earthquakes so that they can initiate the fastest response time possible. Utilising a network of partners from within the humanitarian sector, educational bodies, geological, meteorological and seismological experts and logistical and operational partners ensures that ShelterBox can be best prepared to respond quickly.

A global network of volunteer ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) members ready to respond in an instant as well as pre-positioned aid allows ShelterBox to mobilise a team as quickly as possible. ShelterBox is currently responding with active operational deployments in Turkey, Myanmar, Philippines and Senegal and is monitoring disasters in just as many locations. As well as keeping abreast of global disaster patterns it is imperative for the Operations team to constantly review and monitor evolving security situations, sociological and political activity, weather patterns, logistical and transport environments and a raft of other fast-moving but nonetheless crucial elements to safely deploying aid to families in desperate need.

Today the Operations team is reviewing the need and feasibility of deploying aid into Pakistan following the recent earthquake. The region is notoriously difficult logistically but the full extent of the damage following the rurally centred earthquake is also still unknown. You can keep abreast of all of the ongoing deployments and those disasters the Operations team are monitoring in real time on the ShelterBox Facebook and Twitter pages.

It is thanks to the continued support of ShelterBox supporters that the Operations team can continue to monitor disasters around the globe, in turn allowing ShelterBox to help deliver aid to families in desperate need when it is needed. Thank you.


Japan – One Year on From the Earthquake and Tsunami

SBA President John Lawrence and SBA Director, Lasse Petersen survey the damage in Japan

L_R SBA President John Lawrence and SBA Director, Lasse Petersen

One year has passed since catastrophic scenes of destruction in northeast Japan shocked the world. A 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck 120 kilometres off the northeastern coast, triggering a massive tsunami that caused severe damage to the three districts of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.
Reports showed cars, ships and buildings being swept away with waves of up to ten metres high slamming into the coast.  Fires raged out of control and fissures cracked the land.  Almost 15,900 people lost their lives and at least 500,000 people were made homeless by the disaster.
Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan described it as the worst crisis the country had faced since World War Two: ‘This earthquake and tsunami and also the situation concerning the nuclear power stations are perhaps the hardest hardship that we have experienced after World War Two.’
A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) was mobilised just over one hour after the disaster struck. Further teams were also on standby in case the tsunami hit other countries.

Within 24 hours

Within 24 hours, the hugely experienced SRT members Lasse Petersen (AU), Mark Pearson (UK), John Diksa (FR) and David Eby (US), were on the ground. They immediately began working with the local authorities to assess the areas of most need for disaster relief.
‘We were faced with a unique set of circumstances dealing with the effects of an earthquake, a tsunami and then a potential nuclear incident in the cold Japanese winter,’ said Lasse. ‘Our efforts focussed on Japan’s north where the worst affected areas were.’
Sendai was one of the largest cities struck by the tsunami. Evacuation centres in the area were spilling over. In Yamamoto, a town near Sendai, SRT members Ian Neal (UK) and Mark Dyer (US) found 30 families living in cars outside one centre that was full. They had lost everything when the tsunami hit and they had been living in their cars in the freezing weather. ShelterBoxes were delivered to the families restoring their dignity as they began to rebuild their lives.

‘Homes destroyed’

One of the people to move into a ShelterBox tent with eight of his relatives was 80-year old Toshi Iche Iwasa. He had been living in his vehicle with two other family members. At the time of the disaster, he was picking strawberries at a small family farm:
‘In the 80 years of my life I have experienced many earthquakes but nothing like this one. I fell to the ground to take cover but couldn’t pick myself up again. My wife was only able to crawl across to me.
‘As soon as we heard the tsunami warning we headed straight to our car and drove for higher ground. Although our homes were completely destroyed I feel lucky that we are all safe and together.’
Mark Dyer said: ‘It was great to move Mr Iwasa and his family into one of our tents. He was so excited to talk to his family and let them know they could start living together.
‘He was amazed that donors from all over the world work with ShelterBox to bring this type of lifesaving equipment to people who lose everything in a disaster. He just kept saying Arigato (thank you) ShelterBox.’
ShelterBox Founder and CEO Tom Henderson said: ‘My message to people has always been; do something, don’t do nothing, we can all make a difference. As with every disaster, we saw people around the world act with generosity and compassion which helped us make a difference in Japan and in disaster zones across the globe – thank you.’
Local Rotarians and authorities provided vital logistical support to ShelterBox, enabling the charity to respond quickly and efficiently. Overall 1,680 ShelterBoxes were delivered to the Asian country and 18 SRT members were deployed, bringing shelter, warmth and dignity to thousands of displaced people.
SRT member Pat Prendergast (UK) was part of the second team that was on the ground. Find out more about his experiences in the video below.