On 11 March 2011, a devastating earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku occurred with a magnitude of 9.0–9.1 on the scale of Richter. The SARZA of South Africa answered the call with a team from Rescue South Africa to provide rescue – and relief services for a period of 10 days, assisting local and international emergency agencies.
SARZA manned a JOC for the SA team and further provided HF communications back to South Africa in order to keep the team in contact with home base.
A message from the Chief Police who was responsible for the deployment of the Rescue SA Team: “Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Time is flowing quietly here in Miyagi. Even after ten years, tears come out when thinking about what happened at that time. But my heartfelt appreciation never goes away when thinking about you having come all the way from South Africa to help us ten years ago. I am still keeping the South African Flag badge as a treasure of mine. Inside the police force, I am passing down the story of your brave search and rescue operations to our new young police officers.”
It is always a privilege for SARZA to respond to international disasters and form part of challenging missions and we take time to reflect on the loss and devastation that impacted the people of Japan ten years ago. SARZA has been involved in various other international call outs including the response to Haiti Earthquake in 2010, Super Typhoon Yolanda Philippines in 2013, Malawi Floods 2015 and more recently Cyclone Idai in 2019. So others may live… Photo’s credit Simon McDonnell