Posted: 11:00 am, Saturday 12 March
The Japanese urban search and rescue (USAR) team left New Zealand today to return to Japan.
The team was planning to leave Christchurch this weekend, and brought forward their departure time in response to the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last night.
Civil Defence National Controller Steve Brazier thanked the team members for their efforts in assisting with the Christchurch rescue efforts. He sent his condolences to the people of Japan in the wake of yesterday’s earthquake and tsunami.
“The Japanese urban search and rescue team made an invaluable contribution to the earthquake rescue effort. They came to New Zealand without hesitation and worked tirelessly over the past two-and-a-half weeks. We are immensely grateful for their efforts.
“My thoughts go out to all the people of Japan at this time.”
Sixty-six Japanese USAR members and three specialist search and rescue dogs arrived in Christchurch within two days of the 22 February earthquake. They started work immediately in a multi-agency response to the collapse of the CTV building on Madras Street. Many of the people trapped in that building were Japanese and other foreign English language students.
The first team was followed by two further rotations of 29 staff each. They were part of international teams working on sites within the four avenues and later worked in Sumner and Redcliffs to assist local communities.