Photos: Fairfax Search and Rescue Team Arrives in Japan
Web site tracks progress
The Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team arrived in Japan at about 1:30 a.m. ET today (3 p.m. local time) to help with search and rescue efforts there, according to the group's Web site tracking the team. The group was deployed to Japan after a devastating 8.9 earthquake and resulting tsunami hit the area on Friday. The crew landed at Misawa Air Base, a U.S. military base about 150 miles north of Sendai, the area that saw the biggest hit from the tsunami. The base is home to the 35th U.S. Fighter Wing.
The Fairfax County International Urban Search & Rescue Team (aka Virginia Task Force 1) has been assigned to Ofunato, a fishing village near Miyagi Prefecture, according to the air base Web site. Associated Press news reports estimated Japan saw up to 10,000 deaths from the earthquake and tsunami. The Sendai area is about 150 miles south of Misawa. Stars and Stripes reports it will take six hours for the teams to get there by bus.
The team will head out Monday morning, local time, joining a similar team from Los Angeles, according to Virginia Task Force 1. The team is one of 28 domestic resources qualified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist with Homeland Security, and one of two resources utilized by USAID-OFDA for international response. In all, in Japan, there are about 150 rescuers, 12 rescue dogs and 75 tons of rescue equipment from the two teams from Fairfax County and Los Angeles.
The Fairfax County team flew to Japan after a stopover in Anchorage, Alaska.
The teams are deploying at the request of the Japanese government, under the direction of the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to FEMA. When activated by either federal partner, all related expenses are fully reimbursed by either, resulting in no cost to the citizens of Fairfax County, according to the Virginia Task Force 1 Web site.