- (Photo: Samaritan's Purse)
Survivors in Sendai, one the hardest hit towns of Japan's deadly earthquake and tsunami, will soon receive desperately needed relief as over 90 tons of aid from Samaritan's Purse makes its way from an aircraft that landed in Yokoto Saturday.
The Christian relief organization, headed by CEO and president Franklin Graham, chartered a Boeing 747 that departed North Carolina Friday. The plane is delivering a relief package that includes plastic sheeting for shelter, blankets and hygiene supplies.
"As we go in Japan, we go in Jesus' Name," Graham said, according to Samaritan's Purse. "My prayer is that these supplies will bring some relief to an incredible amount of suffering."
Across Japan, around 380,000 people have evacuated and are staying in shelters, according to Kyodo News. The National Police Agency in Japan reported Friday that the death toll has reached 6,911, while 10,316 people remain missing.
Since the country's twin disasters, many survivors are fending for themselves, enduring long lines for the chance to buy the quickly dwindling supply of bare essentials including rice, soy sauce, ramen and toilet paper. Some store owners have been forced to close after running out of things to sell.
Samaritan's Purse already has teams on the ground in Sendai to distribute initial aid since late Wednesday. The organization is also working through local churches to meet the spiritual needs among people devastated by the disaster.
“I want the people of Japan to know that God hasn’t forgotten them, that God does care for them and that he loves them,” said Graham during a CNN broadcast Friday.
The emergency airlift included 1,000 rolls of heavy-duty plastic, 16,860 blankets, 14,304 hygiene kits, 21,408 bars of soap, 1,111 buckets, and 18,432 jerry cans .
Travel restrictions within the 50-mile radius of the quake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is expected to present challenges to the aid delivery. However, the son of respected evangelist Billy Graham said the U.S. military would help unload the aid supplies and deliver them.
Graham said that emergency supplies were purchased from individuals, groups and businesses. Amongst the donors include Christian music artist Amy Grant and country musicians Vincent Gill and Ricky Skaggs.
"If we have to next week, we will send another plane just like this," he said.
On March 11, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake generated ocean currents that swept through entire coastal cities and towns. During the tremor, four nuclear plants lost power and on Friday the threat of a nuclear meltdown had reached level 5 out of 7.
Japan's capital Tokyo has become a near ghost town as tens of thousands of people flee in fear of radioactive poisoning.
The majority of Japanese identify themselves as Buddhist or Shinto, while only 1.5 percent of the nation's total population is considered Christian.