(ACNS) A Pastoral Letter from Bishop John Hiromichi Kato, diocese of Tohoku

Five days ago, on March 11 at 2:46 PM, there was a major earthquake followed by a tsunami and fires. Now we are facing potential disaster caused by the malfunction of nuclear power plant. On the day of earthquake it was snowing. Today it is expected to get colder. The tsunami and the fires it caused have made us miserable. We are now experiencing a lack of food supply. Over the past five days there have been as series of worrying aftershocks. Essential services are disrupted, particularly the phones with many people unable to recharge their cell phones. There is now a petrol shortage in the immediate area. We were simply not prepared for problems on this scale. In the central part of Sendai City there does not appear to be major damage to the buildings; it almost appears as if there is no problem, but in reality the lack of essential services–gas, electricity and water–is particularly hard for people.

What we are experiencing in our city does not compare to what we have seen in the media, particularly those areas directly impacted by the tsunami. According to the Asahi newspaper, life for the between 400,000 to 500,000 people living in temporary shelters is getting worse. The affected area is very wide and diocesan staff have not been able to visit all areas.

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