Swiss end rescue efforts in Japan

A Swiss rescue team is returning home with its part in the international recovery operation in Japan now over.

This content was published on March 16, 2011 - 10:24 and agencies

The team, which included 23 workers and nine dogs searching for people among the tsunami debris, as well as experts in disaster relief and engineers, had flown into the country on Sunday. On Wednesday they headed to a United States air base ahead of flying back to Switzerland.

Toni Frisch, head of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit, told Swiss radio that German rescuers had already left and well-equipped Japanese teams had taken over the work. All this was coordinated by the United Nations, he noted. 

He explained that while it was clear from the outset that there was a “slim” chance of finding survivors, the team had made a difference.

“We accomplished something very important – we were in position very quickly, actually we were the first who managed to get to work in a systematic manner – and now the Japanese can take over,” he said.

With fears growing over radiation leaks from nuclear power plants, the team tried to avoid evacuation zones and took advice from radiation experts.

“We took all possible measures to protect our team. That said, a certain danger existed – as for everyone near the reactor – but we weren’t exposed to any additional danger,” he said.

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