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At the request of Japan, the European Commission has activated the European Civil Protection Mechanism to provide assistance in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the country earlier today. Japan has requested search and rescue teams and search dogs for ongoing operations.

“Japan is one of the best-prepared countries in the world to cope with disasters, but the sheer magnitude of this earthquake and the tsunami means that international assistance is needed. Europe’s civil protection system has been fully mobilised and we are working to help Japan overcome this immense tragedy,” said Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.

The European Commission’s humanitarian and civil protection department (ECHO) is continuously monitoring the situation in Japan and the other countries that could be hit by a tsunami. The European Civil Protection Mechanism can be used to co-ordinate European assistance. The 31 participating states are able to mobilise various types of assistance (search and rescue teams, advanced medical posts, field hospitals and medical teams, engineers and technical support teams, etc.). Two teams of European civil protection experts, currently in Indonesia, stand ready for deployment to the affected area if needed.