By Brook Sabin
Members of a New Zealand Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team have started arriving in Japan and are on their way to Sendai, the worst affected city.
One member of the team has relatives in the devastated city and he still has no idea what has happened to them.
These men have spent the last three weeks searching through rubble in Christchurch.
But their first international deployment has them entering a disaster zone that looks almost post apocalyptic.
“The body count will be massive and hopefully for us on our search and rescue capability can really give the Japanese people some hope we can get in there and find some one loved ones,” says USAR team leader Mitchell Brown.
While the main USAR contingent left this morning, an advance team led by Jim Stuart-Black has already arrived in Tokyo.
“Accepting the fact this is difficult time, it is our honour to be here and work alongside the teams here within Japan to those who have been affected,” says Mr Black.
Fifteen tonnes of New Zealand rescue equipment is also being airlifted to Japan. It will be crucial with the team expecting to be isolated for days.
“The difficulties over there, obviously the infrastructure has been devastated there's no water, no power. The towns have been inundated with a tsunami obviously, so we're concerned about disease,” says Keri Dobbs from USAR.
For Colin Wright, the deployment is also personal.
His relatives live in the worst affected city, where the Kiwis are headed.
“I just found out yesterday morning that my niece's in-laws live in Sendai and they haven't had any contact with them,” says Mr Wright.
The Kiwis join 69 countries from around the world offering assistance.
Alongside that, 100,000 Japanese troops are being mobilised - with more to be deployed in the coming days.
source: newshub archive