UN sending experts to Japan
The United Nations was sending nine experts to Japan on Saturday, as part of the international efforts to help local relief teams, following a devastating earthquake, reported DPA.
UN officials noted that two of the experts were specialists on the environment, as concern mounts for a nuclear power plant damaged as a result of the quake.
The experts are part of the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination system, a rapid response network set up to aid in the worst cases.
"We stand ready to provide whatever Japan asks for, or put them in contact with bilateral partners," said Elisabeth Byrs at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva.
Dozens of international disaster relief teams remained on standby, in the event the Japanese government requests that they intervene. Red Cross and UN officials have stressed they have regional hubs in Asia from which aid can be deployed quickly.
Switzerland, with strong links to Japan, said it was asked by Tokyo to send search-and-rescue teams, and 25 Swiss specialists and nine trained dogs will land in the country by early Sunday morning to help with the relief efforts.
Two experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit will arrive already later Saturday to begin work.
Other countries, such as Britain, were also beginning to receive requests from Japan for assistance, as international coordination efforts were picking up in earnest. Other reported aid on its way included 140 personnel from the United States and a 48 member search- and-rescue team from New Zealand.
UN aid officials stressed that Japan is an advanced country with local capabilities and renown experts, but the organization was prepared to respond to any request from Tokyo, which is considered a generous donor to humanitarian relief efforts around the world.