The biggest earthquake to hit Japan since records began 140 years ago has devastated the country’s northeast coast and triggered a tsunami warning for the whole of the Pacific basin.

Caritas Japan is mobilizing to respond to the 10 metre tsunami that struck in the region of the Diocese of Sendai today.

“A tsunami has hit our people. Is a tidal wave has come to overwhelm our lives. We are still in shock over what has happened,” Father Koichi Otaki of the Diocese of Niigata told Fides. “The news is mixed, but the diocese most affected is that of Sendai. Our Bishop, Bishop Isao Kikuchi, President of Caritas Japan, ensures us that as the Japanese Catholic community, though very small, we will not walk away from our commitment and our solidarity with the victims.”

“The tsunami reminds us of the precariousness of life. Solidarity and assistance to the victims will certainly be our Lenten commitment,” says the priest.

A ten-meter tsunami struck the coast of Sendai, the capital of the prefecture of Miyagi in north-eastern Japan, following several violent earthquakes registered off the coast of Japan. Bishop Kikuchi is invested in the emergency.

He had just returned to Japan after a meeting of Caritas Asia in Bangkok, where the Assembly elected a new president of Caritas Asia. The appointment will be ratified by the General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis in May in Rome.

Caritas Asia’s Fr Bonnie Mendes said: “We are in constant contact with the Caritas Japan, which is monitoring the situation, the damage and the victims. We hope that there are not too many casualties. We expect to have a better understanding of the situation of displaced persons and their need to plan an emergency intervention.”

SOURCE: Fides, agencies