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ACADEMICS NEEDED FOR QUAKE HELP; City urged to give aid as death toll passes 10,000.

Byline: MATT HURST

MERSEYSIDE'S academics and skilled professionals could offer practical help to the people of Japan.

An aftershock measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale hit Japan yesterday morning causing further devastation along a coastline already wracked by the tsunami that followed Friday's quake.

The estimated death toll has climbed past 10,000 as authorities race to combat the threat of multiple nuclear reactor meltdowns.

And while the response to most recent natural catastrophes, in Haiti or Pakistan, has been to set up disaster emergency funds, a Liverpool-based Japanese linguistics expert says the same doesn't necessarily apply in this case.

Angela Davies, who lives in Childwall, is vice-chairman of the Japan Society North West.

She said: "Japan is unique in that it is not a developing country so it doesn't necessarily need the kind of finances requested when there's a tragedy in another part of the world where there may not be so much money."

Organisations such as the Red Cross and Save the Children are asking for donations but Angela says individuals who may have skills to offer could be of far greater value.

Angela, whose son, Sam Rosen was in Tokyo when the quake struck, said: "The thing people need is to be able to get access to those people who are trapped, so engineers, and particularly structural engineers, would be very useful.

"Japanese Interpreters is a group with individuals based all around the UK and many of them have gone to volunteer as interpreters.

"For example the UK has got people out there like firefighters, working with firefighters from Japan.

"People doing the same job are usually able to communicate, even without language, but in certain circumstances an interpreter might be needed and could be crucial."

A request has been circulated among the linguistics community for speakers of Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Portuguese as well as Japanese and English.

An organisation called Translators Without Frontiers is co-ordinating the appeal.

On the ground, Angela says her son Sam, who has now escaped Tokyo for the relative safety of Osaka, believes most people's concerns are now directed at the country's faltering nuclear power plants.

So far around 140,000 people have been evacuated from within a 13 mile radius of the plant 150 miles from Tokyo.

With few other natural resources much of Japan's electricity supply is nuclear based.

On Friday night, at the ECHO Arena, Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber dedicated his song Pray to the Japanese people.

Angela is confident their spirit will endure.

She said: "The Japanese people have got a wonderful way of coping with disaster. They don't stand there saying my house has fallen down - you won't see any of that on television. They are very contained and very stoic, which is admirable."

DEVASTATION: A ferry is left high and dry after being swept onto the top of a building in Otsuchi, northern Japan

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Mar 14, 2011
Words:500
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