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€250,000 HAS BEEN PLEDGED TO SUPPORT JAPAN’S RECOVERY

Slovakia readies funds and rescuers for Japan

SLOVAKIA has prepared an aid package consisting of funds and rescue workers to support recovery efforts and humanitarian projects in Japan in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit the country in mid-March.

Soldiers and firefighters search for the victims in the rubbles on March 14 in Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, three days after northeastern coastal towns were devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. (Source: TASR / AP)

SLOVAKIA has prepared an aid package consisting of funds and rescue workers to support recovery efforts and humanitarian projects in Japan in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit the country in mid-March.

PM Iveta Radičová sent her condolences to her Japanese counterpart Naoto Kano in response to the disaster. The quake and subsequent tsunami has left tens of thousands of victims unaccounted for.

“I wish you and the people of Japan strength to deal with the damage and also in your efforts to restore the earthquake-hit infrastructure,” said Radičová, as quoted by TASR newswire. “I'm convinced that despite the unpredictability of natural disasters, Japan will be able to restore normal life in the affected parts of the country as soon as possible.”

Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič has also sent his condolences to Emperor Akihito.

Slovakia prepares aid

The European Council, which convened in an extraordinary session in response to the disaster, has agreed to coordinate help for Japan. Slovakia will contribute €250,000 for humanitarian assistance, Radičová said, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

“We want to coordinate the whole process of humanitarian aid with other countries in order to prevent duplicate efforts and, also, to make sure that they [Japan] don’t miss out on getting something they need,” Radičová said on March 14, adding that the form and the scope of the assistance has not yet been settled.

Radičová said the key issue is arranging the transport and distribution of the humanitarian aid and making sure it goes where it’s most needed.

“It has turned out in the past that sending financial resources hasn’t always been the most effective form of aid so we are looking at offering some form of material, concrete help,” Radičová said.

Apart from the financial support, Slovakia is also preparing to send a team from the Special Rescue Dog Service, located in Nyrovce in the Nitra region, which also took part in the rescue efforts in the Hungarian village of Kolontár when it was hit by a wave of toxic red sludge in autumn 2010.

Alexander Berek, the director of the rescue service, said that they are ready to dispatch a 20-member group of international specialists who already have experience dealing with the after-effects of various natural disasters both at home and abroad.

“We have Slovak and Hungarian rescuers, dog-handlers, doctors and four divers in our team,” Berek told the TASR newswire. “Another eight Hungarian doctors specialising in rescue work related to natural disasters are ready to join our group.”

The rescue team contacted the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry to offer its assistance immediately after the earthquake was reported.

“We're ready to hit the road immediately, if necessary,” said Berek.

Radičová also confirmed that Slovakia is ready to send 25 rescue workers, as well as food, water, blankets, and shelter, within four hours of receiving notice.

“We are only waiting for the response from Japan, so that they confirm what they need, how, in when,” she said, as quoted by SITA.

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