Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 2 lands in Japan
Firefighters, paramedics, emergency room doctors, structural engineers,
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—A Los Angeles County Fire Department squad is in Japan today assisting in the aftermath of the destructive 8.9 magnitude earthquake.
A charter jet carrying the county's Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 2 departed LAX about 7:40 a.m. Saturday and landed about 15 hours later in Misawa Air Base in Japan, Los Angeles County fire Inspector Don Kunitomi said.
A separate jet, carrying 74,000 pounds of support gear, flew to Misawa from March Air Reserve Base near Riverside.
About half of the task force remained at Misawa Air Base providing logistical duties, and the other half were deployed to Ofunato—a city in northeast Japan—where they were providing primary search functions and also reconnaissance duties, Kunitomi said.
At Ofunato, the Los Angeles team was teamed up with half of an Urban Search and Rescue Task Force deployed there from Virginia, Kunitomi said.
Some members of the Los Angeles task force had just returned from New Zealand, where members helped dig out trapped survivors from the magnitude 6.3 Christchurch quake on Feb. 22.
The task force draws on a pool of some 140 members. It carries all its own gear, including food. It is made up of firefighters, paramedics, emergency room doctors, structural engineers, heavy equipment specialists, hazardous materials technicians and communications and logistics specialists.
A swiftwater rescue team will be part of this contingent, in case firefighters have to work in tsunami-inundated areas, firefighters said.
"Our thoughts are with the people of Japan as they endure this tragedy. I have directed California's Emergency Management Agency to make state resources available to the Japanese government, and we stand ready to assist them.
"Cal EMA has been on full alert since early this morning, and tsunami warnings were issued for the state's coastal areas. I urge Californians living in affected areas to follow all instructions from state and federal response agencies.''
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—As the Southland braced for repercussions today from a magnitude 8.9 earthquake that struck Japan, the first waves from a tsunami reaching the beaches of Los Angeles County appeared fairly normal this morning.
The earthquake, which caused a 30-foot tsunami to hit Japan, has killed more than 300 people there. It is believed to be the strongest earthquake ever to strike near Japan.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Japan's consul general today thanked members of a Los Angeles County urban search and rescue team sent to the earthquake-ravaged island nation and urged Southern Californians to consider vacationing to Japan.
Standing in front of firefighters and at least one canine rescuer, Junichi Ihara expressed the nation's "sincere gratitude'' to the search and rescue squad, which he said was "one of the first to mobilize and spring into action when the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit.
BURBANK, Calif.—The Walt Disney Co. announced today that it will give $2.5 million to the American Red Cross to support earthquake relief efforts in Japan.
"Our hearts go out to the people of Japan,'' Disney President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger said. "We send our continued thoughts of support and encouragement as this great nation begins the long road to recovery.''
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Fundraisers benefiting the American Red Cross Japan Tsunami Fund will be held Tuesday at Dodger Stadium and the Laugh Factory.
A "drive-through'' fundraiser will be held at Dodger Stadium from 5 a.m.-7 p.m. Former Dodgers Bobby Castillo, Kenny Landreaux, Rudy Law, Al Ferrara, Jimmy Campanis and Derrel Thomas will take donations, along with personalities from KNBC-TV Channel 4.
Monetary donations of cash and checks will be accepted. Checks should be made American Red Cross with "Japan Tsunami Fund'' in the memo line.