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Saturday, March 12, 2011

WRAPUP 1-World sends disaster relief teams to Japan | Reuters

WRAPUP 1-World sends disaster relief teams to Japan

Sat Mar 12, 2011 5:31am EST

* Team of nine U.N. disaster relief experts heading to Japan

* Includes environmental expert

* International search and rescue teams also deploying

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA, March 12 (Reuters) - The international community started to send disaster relief teams on Saturday to help Japan after it suffered a massive earthquake and tsunami, with the United Nations sending a group to help co-ordinate work.

"We are in the process of deploying 9 experts who are among the most experienced we have for dealing with catastrophes. They will help evaluate needs and coordinate assistance with Japanese authorities," Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told Reuters.

The team of U.N. disaster relief officials includes several Japanese speakers and an environmental expert, she said.

An explosion blew the roof off an unstable nuclear reactor north of Tokyo on Saturday, raising fears of a disastrous meltdown.[ID:nL3E7EC07M]

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said there had been a radiation leak at Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The 8.9-magnitude earthquake -- the strongest recorded in Japan -- sent a 10-metre (33-foot) high tsunami ripping through towns and cities across the northeast coast on Friday. Japanese media estimate that at least 1,300 people were killed.



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