Japan earthquake response

In March 2011, the fourth most powerful earthquake in recorded history and a tsunami devastated large tracts of eastern Japan, killing almost 16,000 people. The earthquake and tsunami combined were the most expensive natural disaster in history, causing an estimated US$235 billion damage. 125,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged and a number of nuclear accidents resulted.

Destroyed city

Japanese Caritas employee

Caritas' response

Caritas was involved in delivering emergency aid such as shelter and psychological care in the immediate aftermath of the disaster as well as planning for long term reconstruction efforts such as restoring infrastructure and rebuilding homes. 

Some of the programs supported by Caritas Australia include:

  • Trauma care services at evacuation facilities and transitional shelters. 
  • Emergency health care, mental health assessments, blankets and business and livelihood opportunities for 19,000 survivors.


On March 11, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northeast Japan, triggering a ten-metre tsunami that swept across the coast. 

The Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures were severely affected, with some cities and towns completely demolished. Damage from the quake included the collapse of buildings, bridges and infrastructure; fires at a number of oil refineries; and explosions at the Fukushima Atomic Power Plant. Communities within 20km of the nuclear power station were evacuated in fear of radiation.