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Japanese fighter searches for survivors. Firefighters look for survivors in Japan. Police estimate that more than 10,000 may have died in the disaster. (Wally Santana/AP Images)

Japan Searches for Survivors

After quake and tsunami, workers urgently seek victims among the rubble

By Laura Leigh Davidson | March 15 , 2011
<br /><strong>TOP:</strong> Tsunami survivors assess the brutal damage done to the town of Minami Sanriku. (EPA/Landov)<br /><br /><strong>CENTER:</strong> The earthquake started near Sendai, Japan. After the quake, tsunami warnings were issued for all countries along the Pacific Ocean. (Jim McMahon)<br /><br /><strong>BOTTOM:</strong> The nearly half-million homeless go to makeshift shelters which may lack basic necessities such as electricity, water, and heat. (Shizuo Kambayashi/AP Images)

TOP: Tsunami survivors assess the brutal damage done to the town of Minami Sanriku. (EPA/Landov)

CENTER: The earthquake started near Sendai, Japan. After the quake, tsunami warnings were issued for all countries along the Pacific Ocean. (Jim McMahon)

BOTTOM: The nearly half-million homeless go to makeshift shelters which may lack basic necessities such as electricity, water, and heat. (Shizuo Kambayashi/AP Images)

Search-and-rescue teams from around the world are working furiously to find victims of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan on Friday. Even four days after the disaster, amazing rescues are still happening. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan says that more than 15,000 people have been rescued since Friday.

The Japanese Red Cross is directing search-and-rescue efforts. It has sent search teams from the United States, the United Kingdom, and China into the hard-hit towns of northeast Japan.

Searchers divide damaged areas into a grid and then search each section with sniffer dogs. The dogs bark when they identify buildings where humans may still be alive. Then search teams use noise-detecting equipment and tools that sense heat to help them locate any survivors inside destroyed buildings.

But as time passes, finding survivors becomes less likely. More than 3,300 people have been confirmed dead, and more than 4,000 have been reported as missing. Officials estimate that more than 10,000 have died as a result of the powerful 9.0-magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami.

PROVIDING FOR SURVIVORS

Since the tsunami hit, more than half a million people have been evacuated from their homes. International aid groups are working to provide shelter, food, and medical care for those who have been affected by the disaster. More than 2,500 shelters have been set up, and it may be some time before people can return to their communities to start rebuilding.

Children and the elderly are at high risk after massive disasters like this one. Aid organization Save the Children estimates that more than 100,000 children have been displaced, or forced to leave their homes, because of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear plant complications.

In addition to the basics of food, water, and shelter, Save the Children is setting up safe places for children to play and get their minds off of the disaster. The organization says these spaces will “allow parents to focus on other priorities, such as registering for emergency assistance.”

READY TO HELP

Governments across the globe have reached out to help Japan after news of the quake spread. President Barack Obama said the U.S. is standing ready to help Japan, “one of our closest allies.” U.S. Navy ships are anchored close to Japan, ready to assist the troubled victims of the tsunami.

SPECIAL REPORT: Use these resources to learn more about the disaster, and the science behind earthquakes and tsunamis.

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