The horror of Japan’s tsunami has raised concerns over the long-term impact on children, some of whom are already displaying signs of trauma, from screaming nightmares to silent withdrawal.
According to the charity Save the Children, around 100,000 children were displaced by what has become Japan’s worst natural disaster since 1923, with nearly 20,000 people dead or missing.
The potential for lasting trauma is compounded by the unusual multiple nature of the event: a massive 9.0 earthquake, a devastating tsunami and a nationwide scare over a possible meltdown at a nuclear plant.
Experts say the scale of the loss and disruption for some children would have been almost inconceivable: homes destroyed, friends disappeared, one or both parents maybe killed, or siblings and other close family members missing.
Read the rest of the story: Trauma stalks children of Japan tsunami.
For seven days the nine-year-old boy has toured rescue centres across the tsunami-ravaged port of Ishinomaki. For seven days he has left disappointed.
Toshihito’s heartbreaking search for his parents has become a poignant symbol of Japan’s suffering. A week on from the tsunami that has left 6,500 dead and more than 10,300 missing, the boy still hopes to trace his father Kazuyuki, mother Noriko, grandmother Kyoko and his two cousins.
He last saw them trapped in a car as it was swept away by a 30-foot wave. Toshihito escaped the vehicle by smashing a window and he lost consciousness before rescuers pulled him from the water.
Since then, he has visited shelters holding a card emblazoned with his family’s names that reads: "I will come at 11 o’clock tomorrow, so please wait. I will come again tomorrow."
Aid workers and survivors can offer no information but each day Toshihito insists: "When the roads clear up, I will check our home."
Read the rest of the story: Boy, 9, searches for parents: Lonely quest after family swept away by 30ft wave.
Rescuers struggled to reach survivors on Saturday morning as Japan reeled after an earthquake and a tsunami struck in deadly tandem. An 8.9-magnitude earthquake, the strongest ever recorded in Japan, set off a devastating tsunami that sent walls of water washing over coastal cities in the north. Concerns mounted over possible radiation leaks from two nuclear plants near the earthquake zone.
The death toll was in the hundreds, but Japanese media quoted government officials as saying that it would almost certainly rise to more than 1,000. About 200 to 300 bodies were found along the waterline in Sendai, a port city in the northeastern part of the country and the closest major city to the epicenter.
Thousands of homes were destroyed, many roads were impassible, trains and buses were not running, and power and cellphones remained down in the region. Japanese officials on Saturday issued broad evacuation orders for people living in the vicinity of two separate nuclear power plants that had experienced breakdowns in their cooling systems as a result of the earthquake, and they warned that small amounts of radiation could leak from both plants.
While the loss of life and property may yet be considerable, many lives were certainly saved by Japan’s extensive disaster preparedness and strict construction codes. Japan’s economy was spared a more devastating blow because the earthquake hit far from its industrial heartland.
Read the rest of the story: Quake and Tsunami Leave Wake of Destruction Across Northern Japan.