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First teams and hardware already in Japan as United States provides historic assistance

USAID Urban Search and Rescue team Miami-Dade in Haiti , similar teams will be deployed in Japan

Today, U.S. assistance began arriving in Japan, in what may be one of the most important aid operations in American history. The first U.S. aid began deployment in the form of ships, soldiers, experts, equipment and personnel for search and rescue.
The process will take days, even weeks, but the first part of this assistance has already arrived today. Japan is one of the closest allies of the United States.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), under direct supervision from the Department of State, announced that they have deployed two search and rescue teams from Fairfax (Virginia) and Los Angeles to help locate survivors and/or bodies following the tragic 8.8 Richter earthquake that struck northeast Japan.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan described the crisis as the country’s most difficult since World War II.
Arrivals included approximately 150 american experts and 12 sniffer dogs to detect victims alive, with more expected tomorrow at Misawa.
The Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) from USAID, which assesses needs in emergency situations, is already in Japan to coordinate aid for U.S. government agencies.
Yokota Air Base near Tokyo, where the U.S. military is coordinating humanitarian aid, has already been used by early flights that could not land in the capital.
The U.S. also immediately moved Marine and Air Force helicopters and cargo planes from the island of Okinawa to Honshu military base, and the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which was heading west in the Pacific, changed course to arrive tonight in Japan, according to American ambassador John Roos.
The carrier is the lead ship of a group including the USS Chancellorsville and the USS Preble.
Two U.S. helicopters in Shiroishi, a city near the area most affected by the earthquake, today distributed 681 kilograms of rice and bread.
Two destroyers, the USS McCampbell and USS Wilbur, were in the vicinity of the Boso Peninsula in Chiba and in position to assist the authorities in Japan in their search and rescue operations.
Another destroyer, the USS Mustin, will arrive today.
Eight other U.S. ships were on their way to Japan from various locations and scheduled to arrive starting Sunday.
The USS Essex arrived in Malaysia and is ready to go to Japan to join the USS Harpers Ferry and USS Germantown in Tokyo.
Other boats such as the USS Tortuga, which supports amphibious operations, have temporarily left the port of Sasebo to load helicopters and the USS Blue Ridge in Singapore has supplied humanitarian aid and equipment.
Regarding the Fukushima nuclear plant (northern Japan), which suffered a huge explosion that triggered alarms today, Ambassador Roos said that U.S. nuclear experts are in contact directly with colleagues in Japan.
For now, he said, there is no evidence of U.S. casualties.
At the request of the Government of Japan, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has deployed Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams from Fairfax County and Los Angeles County to assist in the rescue effort in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The USAR team from Fairfax County has departed Washington, DC on commercially chartered aircraft. The flight will stop in Los Angeles to meet that rescue team and then continue on to Japan. The U.S. rescue teams, comprised of approximately 150 personnel and 12 canines trained to detect live victims, were scheduled to arrive the morning of March 13 in Misawa, Japan. Upon arrival, the teams will immediately begin the search for live victims alongside the Japanese and international search and rescue teams.
USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) is already in Japan and working to coordinate the overall U.S. Government response effort. USAID will continue to provide additional support to the Government of Japan as needed.