Communications relief agencies hampered

Fears about the nuclear situation in Japan following the 11 March earthquake have hampered efforts to restore the country’s communications systems.

Telecoms san Frontieres, a disaster relief organisation that focuses on bringing emergency communications systems to disaster areas including Haiti, sent a team to Japan from its regional base in Bangkok earlier in the week. They were carrying satellite phones and terminals that could  provide emergency telecommunications assistance for the emergency services.

The team worked with the United Nations’ Disaster Assessment and Coordination team and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan at the United Nations’ On-Site Operations Coordination Centre in Tokyo, providing a wireless connection to help them share information. But on Tuesday 15th/evening the directors ordered its members to return to Bangkok due to the nuclear emergency. 

The Xinhua news agency reported that a 15-member rescue team arrived in Japan on Sunday from China, bringing four tonnes of equipment for search and rescue operations, including its own power supply and telecommunications.

Ericsson Response, the telecom giant’s emergency response team that can bring a GSM network to crisis struck areas, is on standby waiting for an invitation to help from a coordinating body such as the UN.

“We have not yet received any request from the UN or any other agency to activate our Ericsson Response resources,” said a spokesperson. “We are of course prepared to support any way we can. Ericsson Japan is working hard to closely support our customers to maintain and improve network operations.”

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