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International Medical Corps Team in Hardest-Hit Coastal Communities Finds Severe Shortages of Food, Water, Medicines; Acute Need for Mental Health Support
Date:3/18/2011

LOS ANGELES, March 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- International Medical Corps' emergency response team is assessing the post-disaster needs of isolated coastal villages north of Sendai that have yet to receive humanitarian assistance. They found acute shortages of food, water and some medicines, and survivors in need of mental health support.

Many are without heat in an area where temperatures have dipped below freezing and snow has been falling – putting survivors in danger of exposure. Meantime, disrupted supply chains and fuel shortages have caused most convenience stores to close.

On Friday, International Medical Corps' team visited three heavily destroyed towns north of Sendai – one in particular, East Matsushima, was virtually washed away by the tsunami. "We saw first-hand how extensive the material and human damage of the tsunami and earthquake was," said team member Dr. Mutsuo Ikuhara. "Displaced people lost everything and require much emotional support. We are deeply moved by the strength and dignity of the people and their terrible suffering."

Based on its assessments at evacuation centers and a regional hospital where critical patients have been referred, International Medical Corps will work to fill critical gaps – including addressing the need for food, water and chronic medicines at shelters, providing psychological support, and if needed deploying four medical teams currently on standby.

In its assessment in Sendai, International Medical Corps found that although the coastal area had suffered large-scale damage to infrastructure, the main city is functioning relatively well, with electricity and regular services being restored. The team visited University Hospital, a 1,250-bed facility, and found it functioning reasonably well. There are some shortages in food, water and basic supplies, with people forming long lines for available supplies. There
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