Tokyo (AsiaNews) – The diocese of Sendai bid farewell today to Fr André Lachapelle, a member of the Québec Missions Society (MEQ), and other victims of Friday’s tsunami. The funeral was held at 6 pm (local time) in Sendai cathedral. The city suffered the most from the double natural disaster.
Fr Charles Aimé, MEQ regional superior and a 12-year veteran in Sendai, said that the situation in northeastern Japan was grim but that the people of Japan were coping with one of their most tragic moments in history with character and dignity.
The diocese of Sendai covers an area that includes the prefectures of Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate, where the tsunami wiped out entire villages.
Fr Pedro Komastu, the diocese’s chancellor, said that the parishes of Iwaki, Yumoto and Haranomachi have not reported in yet. All of them are in Fukushima Prefecture.
Diocesan headquarters buildings did not suffer any major damage, the clergyman said. He noted that they would be made available for rescue operations. The Church has already started collecting aid for victims.
In Yostuya, Morioka (Iwate), the local parish has collected emergency supplies and offered its bus to help residents in Kamaishi (Miyaki), a town not yet reached by troops and civil defence forces.
Students at a local Catholic school in Shirayuri (Morioka) have collected humanitarian aid, which they are distributing out of the parish building in Yostuya.
The death toll so far stands at 2,475 people dead and 3,611 missing.
Another earthquake of magnitude 6.3 was registered today near the coast of Fukushima. A radioactive leak from the nuclear plant remains a real possibility. Another explosion at reactor 3 was reported today.
The authorities have urged residents within a 30-kilometre radius of the plant to stay indoors.
Even though radiation controls are currently underway even in Tokyo, government officials insist that the cores of the reactors are still intact.
The government also sent a text messages to Japanese mobile phone users, urging them to cut on energy use. (S.C.)