15 Mar 2011

NZ USAR team on the ground in Japan

9:17 pm on 15 March 2011

A New Zealand Urban Search and Rescue team has reached one of the areas of Japan worst-affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

The Fire Service says the team arrived at midday in the northern coastal area, where thousands of people are missing.

It says the team of 48 is made up of urban search and rescue personnel and extra Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade representatives.

The rescue team expected to start its search operation in the town of Minamisanriku, alongside Australian colleagues, on Tuesday.

Team leader Jim Stuart-Black says morale is high among the team and members are focussed on assisting on the ground.

He says even though their location is about 120km north of the Fukashima nuclear plant, they are very aware of the continuing nuclear crisis.