An 8.9-magnitude earthquake, the strongest recorded in Japan's history, has triggered a tsunami affecting northern Japan, killing hundreds. The tsunami triggered warnings throughout Asia and coastal areas of the US and Latin America. Evacuations were reported in coastal areas in the US, including Oregon. Waves that hit Hawaii early today did not cause major damage, according to news reports, but we will continue to monitor the situation.
The worst-hit area in Japan was the northeastern port city of Sendai, which was the closest metropolitan area to the quake's epicenter. Officials said up to 300 bodies were found; the death toll there and elsewhere is expected to rise, the New York Times reported.
Week of Compassion, through our partners, is closely watching the situation along the U.S. Pacific Coast and around the Pacific Rim. We have been in touch with our regional ministers along the West Coast in the case that needs emerge should the tsunamis cause damage. In addition, Church World Service domestic response teams are monitoring the situation in Hawaii and the West Coast.
Through Global Ministries, WoC has already responded to our primary partner, the United Church of Christ in Japan, with an initial emergency response grant and will continue to be in close touch with them as they respond to this devastating tragedy.
We offer you this beautiful prayer written by the Rev. Dr. John Tamilio, pastor of Pilgrim United Christian Church in Cleveland, Ohio, in hopes that you might find it helpful as you pray for our sisters and brothers in Japan.
Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership in times like these. I send you my heartfelt gratitude.
Note: Not mentioned here is the possibility of a meltdown at one or more nuclear plants -- making this an even more problematic disaster. Ministries like Week of Compassion work with groups already in the country so this aid gets right to work.