A 102-member Korean rescue team departed for Japan aboard Air Force planes Monday to help the neighboring country cope with the massive devastation left by a record earthquake and tsunami.
Three Air Force C-130 planes carrying the rescue workers took off from a military airport in Seongnam, south of Seoul, around 8:10 a.m. and were scheduled to land at Japan's Narita airport around 10:50 a.m., the foreign ministry said.
The departure came after an advance team of five rescue workers and two search dogs arrived in Japan on Saturday. The main team's departure had originally been scheduled for Sunday night, but was delayed due to airport problems in Japan, officials said.
Three Air Force C-130 planes carrying 102-member Korean rescue workers are due to arrive at Japan's Narita airport on Monday morning. Yonhap News
The rescue team, which also includes six medical workers and an eight-person support staff, planned to leave for Yamagata later in the day aboard civilian aircraft. Yamagata is adjacent to Miyagi prefecture, one of the hardest-hit regions in the disaster.
South Korea has pledged to provide as much support as possible for Japan after a magnitude 8.9 quake struck Japan on Friday, unleashing a gigantic tsunami that swept ships, cars and homes away in the worst natural disaster to hit the country in recorded history.
By official count, about 2,300 people were killed or missing, but media reports say the number could be much higher, even over 20,000.
Japan also wrestled with the threat of possible meltdowns of two nuclear reactors at a power plant damaged by the quake after an explosion on Saturday blew off the roof and walls around one of the reactors at the plant in Fukushima, 240 kilometers north of Tokyo.
South Korea has also redirected some of its incoming shipments of liquefied natural gas to send them to Japan to help address potential energy shortages after some nuclear power plants shut down. Officials said the government is also in talks with Japan's government to send water and other relief supplies.
Seoul has issued a series of travel advisories for Japan, putting areas within 30 kilometers of the plant under the second-highest advisory, Level 3, that calls for citizens to avoid traveling there as much as possible. A Level 2 advisory was issued for provinces around the plant, and a Level 1 advisory was issued for Tokyo and nearby Chiba.It was the first time South Korea has issued a travel advisory for Tokyo.
The scale of South Korean casualties in the disaster remained unclear. But at least 60 people from 21 South Korean households in the coastal regions of Japan have remained out of contact since the disaster, officials said.
긴급구조대 오늘 오전 日 급파
일본 강진 사태에 따른 구조지원과 피해복구를 위해 긴급구조대 102명이 14일 오전 일본 피해 지역에 급파됐다.
외교통상부에 따르면 구조대는 성남공항에 대기 중인 공군 C-130 수송기 3대를 이용해 이날 오전 8시10분께 출발했으며, 오전 10시50분께 나리타 공항에 착륙할 예정이다.
구조대는 입국 수속이 마무리되는 대로 나리타 공항을 떠나 오후 1시50분께 야마가타 공항에 도착할 것으로 보이며, 이후 주센다이 총영사관이 임차한 차량을 이용해 센다이로 이동할 계획이라고 외교부는 전했다.
구조대는 당초 13일 밤 11시30분 일본 센다이 지역으로 출발할 예정이었으나 일본 측의 정확한 착륙공항 통보가 늦어지면서 출발이 지연된 것으로 알려졌다.
구조대는 중앙 119 구조단 및 서울.경기 구조대원 100명과 외교통상부 인도지원 과장 및 직원 2명으로 구성된다. 구조대에는 의료요원 6명과 일본어 통역요원 6명도 포함된다고 외교부는 밝혔다.
구조대는 지진.해일 피해가 가장 심각한 동북부 지역에서 실종자 구조.탐사와 안전평가를 수행할 예정이며 구체적인 활동과 장소를 일본 측과 협의 중인 것으로 전해졌다. (연합뉴스)