The search and humanitarian assessment team, comprising 25 Swiss experts and nine sniffer dogs, is due to touch down in Japan in the early hours of Sunday morning. The team will be split into two, each with their own specific mission.
The first group, who will most probably be deployed in the tsunami-hit region, will use sniffer dogs and tracking devices to locate victims buried underneath the debris. The mission of the second group will be to assess the most urgent humanitarian and environmental needs, to coordinate efforts on the ground with the authorities, and to provide initial emergency relief.
In addition, two specialists from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA), who are currently deployed in Beijing, are expected to arrive in Japan on Saturday evening.
The dispatch of a rescue team is in response to an official request for help from the Japanese government. Switzerland was quick to offer assistance as soon as the first reports of the earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan came in.
The Swiss Humanitarian Aid Directorate remains in constant contact with the Japanese authorities, the United Nations, partner countries and Swiss representation on the ground.
The FDFA’s Crisis Task Force also plans to send an additional three members of staff to assist the Swiss representation in Tokyo.
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