By ACNS staff
Churches and agencies of the Anglican Communion have begun to plan how best to respond to the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami impacting countries across the Pacific Ocean.
The Secretary of The Nippon Sei Ko Kai (The Anglican Communion in Japan) Shinya Samuel Yawata told ACNS this morning that the Provincial office is waiting to learn the extent of the destruction in northern Japan. He said he had not yet heard from any other dioceses, but wanted the rest of the Communion to know that the NSKK Province office is still functioning.
“Unfortunately we have not heard from people of northern Japan except from the news on the Internet. All phone lines are down because of heavy usage so we do not know much about what is going on. Viewing the Internet we can see that damage is substantial and already many deaths have been reported.”
“In Tokyo and the vicinity there is slight damage and some fires, but it is not detrimental,” he said. “The Provincial office had no damage. We all have to walk home because all traffic has stopped dead. Please inform the rest of world that the Provincial office has not sustained any damage and it is operational.”
Mr Yawata told Anglican agency USPG: “It was the biggest shake I have ever experienced.” He is particularly anxious to hear from Tohoku Diocesan Office where he believes there will be very significant damage.
On USPG's website Rachel Parry, the agency's Regional Manager for Asia, said: "We keep all the affected people in Japan, and in particular our fellow Anglicans, especially those who have not yet been able to be reached in Tohoku Diocese, in our thoughts and prayers. I have been promised that as soon as there is any further news, the provincial office will be in touch with USPG."
Further tsunamis are being predicted for the wider area of the Pacific Ocean, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hawaii, the Pacific coast of Russia and North, South America and New Zealand. Japan is preparing for further aftershocks.
USPG is waiting to hear a response from USPG Mission Companion Claire Gelder, based in Nagoya, Port City, south of Tokyo, where she is teaching English to help raise funds for local mission. Staff are also waiting to hear back from the Asian Rural Institute, in Tochigi-ken, north of Tokyo, where USPG funds the training of Anglican rural leaders from Africa and Asia.
Sally Keeble, Director for the Anglican Communion’s Anglican Alliance, Development, Relief and Advocacy said that she is currently working with agencies in all countries likely to be affected by the earthquake: “We will be co-ordinating contact points for people who might wish to offer help or who might need to be in receipt of help. The Alliance will also be contact Anglican/Epsicopal agencies to find out what they are doing to assist.”
The 8.9-magnitude quake struck at 2.46pm local time (5.46am GMT), 250 miles from Japan’s capital Toyko. It was followed by strong aftershocks. Dramatic video footage shows cars, trucks, ships and buildings in Japan being swept away in the tsunami. Fires were sparked throughout the region, including Tokyo, and around 30 fatalities have been reported so far.
A tsunami warning has been issued for the following countries, some areas of which have already been evacuated: Russia, Marcus Is., N. Marianas, Guam, Wake Is., Taiwan, Yap, Philippines, Marshall Is., Belau, Midway Is., Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Johnston Is., Solomon Is., Kiribati, Howland-baker, Hawaii, Tuvalu, Palmyra Is., Vanuatu, Tokelau, Jarvis Is., Wallis-futuna, Samoa, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, Fiji, New Caledonia, Tonga, Mexico, Kermadec is, Fr. Polynesia, Pitcairn, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Antarctica, Panama, Honduras, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru.