RP to send rescue team despite threat of nuclear disaster

A TWO-MAN advance party of Philippine Rescue Team were sent to Japan on Wednesday, March 16, to conduct a survey and assess the prevailing situation there following a powerful earthquake and tsunami last week.

Army Colonel Danilo Estropia, former defense attache to Japan and Ranny Magno, the chief of search and rescue unit of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), flew to Tokyo as reports came out that several countries have started pulling out their own rescue team due to risk of radiation exposure from the crippled Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant.

The executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Benito Ramos, said the two are part of the 46-man crack rescue team that the Philippine government has placed on standby for possible deployment to Japan.

“They (Estropia and Magno) are tasked to arrange where the C-130 plane of the Philippine Air Force, which will be used to transport the Philippine rescue team, could land in Japan once a go signal is given by the proper authorities,” Ramos said.

The NDRRMC chief added that the two will join ongoing efforts to assist Japanese residents affected by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the northern part of Japan on March 11 and triggered a 10-meter high tsunami.

“At saka hindi pa natin alam ang area of operations natin, basta ang mission is search and rescue, hanapin hindi lang yung mga Hapon na namatay, dinaganan ng mga debris, kundi yung mga Pilipino din dun,” said Ramos.

The NDRRMC official said the Estropia and Magno are there to also dertemine what area the Philippine rescue team’s capability would be useful, but he quickly added that it would still be up to President Benigno Aquino, III to decide whether or not rescue mission will proceed.

Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manolo Lopez advised the government to give priority to the sending of relief goods instead of dispatching a rescue team to the disaster-stricken country.

This as Lopez reportedly said in a radio interview that other countries have started to pull out their rescue teams because of the risk of exposure to radiation from the damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima Daiichi.

Rescue teams from the United States were also advised to move back after some of the members were exposed to low-level radiation and two of their aircraft carriers detected a low-level radiation in the wind coming from Japan. Anthony Vargas

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