As Japan begins the long struggle from under the rubble of the 8.9 magnitude quake that struck near Tokyo, charities around the world prepare to help those needing emergency shelter and supplies.
Based out of the United Kingdom, ShelterBox has sent their field operations specialist, Mark Pearson, and international director, Lasse Petersen to the scene to assess the needs of the island nation.
Tom Henderson OBE, ShelterBox founder and CEO, said: "At present the scale of the disaster is difficult to measure. What we do know is that the combination of such a large earthquake followed by the tsunami has the potential to cause significant damage across the Pacific Rim. "
Petersen said that the scene is catastrophic.
Japan's number one leading insurance company for individual insurance policies Aflac has pledged 100 million yen to the International Red Cross.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Japanese people during this very difficult time," Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos said. "We stand ready to assist in the healing process and are pledging these funds to ensure that basic needs are cared for during this crisis."
The Red Cross is already working in the emergency response efforts to evacuate, search and rescue and provide emergency first aid with their local volunteers. They are monitoring the situation ready to provide emergency supplies and personnel if needed. Online donations for the Canadian Red Cross Japan Earthquake/Asia-Pacific Tsunami fund are being accepted at www.redcross.ca/helpnow, at your local branch office or by calling toll free 1-800-418-1111.
With 20 countries at risk of tsunami World Vision staff are on standby to respond in Japan and any other nation that is hit. Their office staff of 75 in Japan are all reported to be safe and are working with local authorities.
"World Vision Canada is ready to offer help and support to countries throughout the Pacific Rim affected by today's devastating earthquake. We are particularly concerned for children, who are often the most vulnerable during times of natural disaster. Initial reports indicate this quake could be one of the biggest seen in recent memory and we are prepared to go where our efforts are most needed." —Dave Toycen, President, World Vision Canada
Michael Gaade, Political Affairs Aide with the Japanese consulate in Toronto said that right now donations to the Red Cross are needed.
"There is a meeting being planned by local charities for next week to see what the needs will be."
Gaade said in Japan the local authorities are telling people to stay where they are are.
"Hospitals are quite full closest to the epicenter. We have not heard is all of the hospitals have survived the quake. At this time there are over 300 dead and more than 500 people who are missing."
Gaade has friends in Japan and said that Facebook has helped find them.
"Social Media like Twitter and Facebook is helping people find loved ones right now. Google has also set up their Missing Person's Finder for the earthquake where those in the area can sign in and report their condition and those looking for loved ones can sign on to find them.