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News

Monday 14 March 2011

Britain doing all it can to support those affected by the Japanese earthquake

The scene after the tsunami hit Sendai in northern Japan; PA copyrightPrime Minister David Cameron has said that the British Government will do all it can to “aid and assist those affected” by the devastating earthquake in Japan.

Speaking today in the House of Commons, the PM said that the Government is keeping its response to this tragedy and support for Japan and the wider Pacific region under “close and continuous review.”

He said that whilst there are as yet no confirmed British fatalities, there are “severe concerns about a number of British nationals.”

“Over the weekend we have had three rapid deployment teams of staff operating in the worst affected areas, and they will be augmented by a further team arriving in Tokyo this afternoon and advancing to the North East of the country tomorrow.”

These teams are working together to help British nationals caught up in the tragedy and to help find information for the families who are worried about them.

A helpline which was set up for families concerned about relatives has taken several thousand calls. David Cameron said that the Government would be following up each lead given to this helpline.

At the request of the Japanese Government, a 63-strong UK Search and Rescue team – which includes medical personnel and two dogs – also arrived in Japan yesterday morning.

On concerns about the failure of nuclear power stations in Japan, the PM said:

“This is clearly a fast moving and rapidly changing picture, and the Japanese Government are doing everything they can to manage the situation they are facing. We are in close touch with the Japanese authorities and have offered our nuclear expertise to help manage this very serious incident. 

“The Energy Secretary has asked Chief Nuclear Inspector, Dr. Mike Weightman, for a thorough report on the implications of the situation in Japan. The UK does not have reactors of the design of those in Fukushima and nor does it plan any. Nor are we in a seismically sensitive zone. But if there are lessons to learn, then we will learn them.”

The Prime Minister concluded by saying that “the devastation we are witnessing in Japan is of truly colossal proportions” and that “our thoughts are with the Japanese people” at this very difficult time.

Read more: Latest travel advice for Japan (opens in a new window)

Read the statement: Statement from the PM on Japan and the Middle East

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