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Japan: euronews in tsunami-hit north, with the Red Cross

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Japan: euronews in tsunami-hit north, with the Red Cross


Now a scene of desolation, it is hard to believe that Yamada was once a prosperous fishing town. That was before the tsunami.

The killer 10-metre wave washed away entire generations and a way of life. Yamada’s sons and daughters are among the 26,000 or so dead or missing in Japan’s twin tragedies.

Euronews reporter Chris Cummins is there.

“A tsunami strike of March 11 at Yamada Fumidakoshi killed hundreds,” he said. “For those that survived, it is a fight for the future.”

Yamada’s story has been unreported so far but euronews is there, with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societiess (IFRC).

“A big area of concern is the trauma and shock these people have experienced,” explained IFRC’s Kathy Mueller, at an evacuation centre for victims.

“The reality is still not sinking in. A lot of these people are expecting their loved ones, who are still missing, to come walking in the door any day. The likelihood of that happening is diminishing the longer we get into this disaster. So the Red Cross, we have our medical teams, 50 or so on the ground at any one time. We go into centres like this and we provide psycho-social support. So we are working with the kids. We are singing with them. We are dancing with them. We are drawing, playing games, trying to get them through the trauma. For the older folks, it is a matter of just sitting and talking to them, perhaps putting an arm on them, you know, showing that we care and that their voice is important.”

The immediate, practical needs of all survivors are being addressed but aid teams know that children are particularly vulnerable.

“Most of them were in school when this happened,” said Kathy Mueller. “The schools, because Japan experiences so many earthquakes, were built on higher ground. So the kids, for the most part, were safe. They are back in school where the school has opened. They obviously cannot use the gymnasium because that is being used as an evacuation centre in many cases. But the kids are laughing, playing. From what I hear, they are doing remarkably well.”

And, as they play, amid so much sorrow, hope shines through in the smiles of Yamada’s youngsters.

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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