International Medical Corps Responds to Earthquakes in Japan

Earthquakes that measured in magnitudes as high as 7.0 hit Kumamoto prefecture in the southern island of Kyushu in mid-April. An initial smaller quake was felt on April 14, followed by another larger tremor on April 16. This is the most severe series of natural disasters the country has felt since the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami that stuck Honshu, the main island, in 2011. At least 48 people were killed and about 1,200 other individuals were injured, according to local disaster management authorities. Initially, some 181,000 people were displaced from their residences, many of whom moved to local evacuation centers.

(Damage caused by earthquakes felt in Japan's Kumamoto prefecture. Source: International Medical Corps.)

(Damage caused by earthquakes felt in Japan’s Kumamoto prefecture. Source: International Medical Corps.)

An International Medical Corps Emergency Response team arrived in Kumamoto, Japan, after the initial quake was felt. In support of the Government of Japan’s robust response efforts, and in coordination with local authorities, teams have been providing hygiene services at crowded evacuation centers, including delivering temporary emergency latrines to two evacuation centers in Mashiki to ease the growing strain on hygiene resources.

To support the distribution of hygiene supplies, including latrines, International Medical Corps teams have been coordinating directly with local Social Welfare Councils, who have requested efforts be focused on areas outside of the city. International Medical Corps has since coordinated with Social Welfare Councils and evacuation centers in Mashiki, Nishihar and Minamias to determine specific needs, and are coordinating closely with authorities to ensure that relief efforts are not duplicated.

Moving forward, International Medical Corps is coordinating with evacuation center management and local governments to continue providing hygiene services, and to ensure that the most vulnerable residents, especially the elderly, have access to the services they need.  As the response transitions to recovery, International Medical Corps will partner with local organizations, providing surge capacity and technical support to help organizations become their own best first responders.

International Medical Corps ISH, the Japanese affiliate of International Medical Corps, has been working in support of the Government of Japan and local partner organizations since its founding in 2011, and played a crucial role in assisting local partners after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake.