The death toll from Friday's earthquake, the most powerful ever recorded in Japan, and the resulting tsunami in the north-east of the country is expected to exceed 10,000 with thousands more still missing.
Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan describes his country's current situation as "the most severe crisis since World War II." Tens of thousands of relief workers, soldiers and police are currently faced with broken bridges, impassable roads and miles of wreckage to traverse to rescue survivors.
A growing nuclear crisis at one of the country's power plants, which was damaged in the quake, has also hampered relief efforts and sparked widespread fears of a full meltdown as an explosion at the Fukushima atomic plant blew off the roof and walls around one of its reactors Saturday a day after the quake. According to the Mainichi Daily News, “experts have issued warnings that the explosion at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on March 14 could be far more serious than initially predicted.”
While Japan's relative affluence will help the country head off the dire humanitarian crisis that we're seeing in a place like Haiti, enormous resources are still needed for reconstruction, and especially for providing a safety net for the country's millions of citizens already mired in poverty.
Numerous organizations have created ways to aid disaster relief efforts for those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières is sending two three-person teams to the Iwate and Miyagi prefectures in Japan. Learn more about the organization's efforts and make a donation at Doctorswithoutborders.org.
Text the American Red Cross (REDCROSS to 90999) or visit redcross.org to donate $10 from your phone.
Save The Children is sending an emergency team to assist its staff in Japan. Donations to the group's Children's Emergency Fund will help preserve the welfare of children there.
GlobalGiving disburse funds to organizations providing direct relief and emergency services to victims of the earthquake and tsunami. All donors will get email updates on how their funds have been used. Get more info and donate today.
Peace Winds America a Seattle disaster preparedness and response organization, focuses on reducing the devastating impact of natural disasters in the Asia Pacific. PWA brings together governments, militaries, NGOs, and the private sector to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, with the Japan — US relationship as the cornerstone of humanitarian assistance in the Asia Pacific region.
A contribution to International Medical Corps helps ensure the disaster relief to the services they need today, including primary and secondary health care, food and nutrition, clean water and sanitation, mental health care, and the skills they need to rehabilitate.
The cause aggregator Network For Good, curates lists of relief programs, projects and ways to help.
Finally, Google is helping locate people with unknown whereabouts. Along with a tsunami alert posted on its front page, Google has launched the Person Finder: 2011 Japan Earthquake to help connect people that may have been displaced due to the disaster and launched a crisis response page highlighting local resources and emergency information.
Watch this space for updates and please add links and info on other ways to help in the comments section.