Japanese Dockworkers, Seafarers Hit Hard By Tsunami

3,300 vessels off Japan's east coast when the tsunami hit - 5 ships are grounded, 4 adrift, 17 crew missing to date. Countless dockworkers still missing - ITF President pledges support and solidarity to Japanese transport workers.

Tens of thousands of people have been rocked by earthquake, engulfed by tsunami and now, in the port of Sendai, consumed by fire.

Now thousands more are suffering nuclear fallout and radiation exposure.

"As always transport workers are at the forefront of maritime disaster," said International Transport Workers' Federation President and MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin.

Japanese Coast Guard were still searching for the Indonesian crew on the Japanese flagged Tuna fishing boat Kuni Maru No.3  missing since the tsunami hit the coast on Friday, Japanese unions report.

Meanwhile unions have been unable to contact some port workers at Miyako and Shiogama Sendai terminals.  In Miyako both the union and company rooms have been swept away and most of the seawall is under water. In Shiogama Sendai container terminal (see photo) phones and internet are still down, the wharves are annihilated and containers scattered around the yard.  The union has been unable to confirm the safety of dockworkers.

In Hitachi Hitachinaka dockworkers are reported to be safe, but the wharf was annihilated and cars for export on fire.

Similarly in Kashima Port the union reports no lives loss, but the company headquarters was swept away and containers carried out to sea.

The Japanese seafarers union, JSU and Zenkoku Kowan officers and staff and their immediate families are reportedly all safe.

International Transport Workers Federation Inspectorate Coordinator for Japan, Shoji Yamashita is maintaining regular contact with the Japanese Coast Guard monitoring vessels that were affected by the tidal wave.

He reports five ships grounded and four adrift.

The Panama flagged general cargo vessel Victory was washed aground in the Port of Ishinomaki, the both the Panamanian MV China Steel Integrity general cargo vessel grounded and the Panamanian MV Asia Symphony grounded Kamaishi, the MV Shiramizu Japanese bulk ship grounded at Soma and the Panamanian flagged MV Shirouma, Panama grounded at Haramachi.

Thirty one crew were rescued from the Italian MV Sider Joy adrift at the Ishinomaki  Dockyard, the Panamanian MV Golden Grace is adrift at  Kashima, the Chinese container vessel MV Long Mu Wang (China Flag Container Vessel) is adrift at Kushiro and the Panamanian MV Coral Ring bulker collided with berth atOnahama.

In Sendai, the prefectural capital of Miyagi prefecture, over the weekend fires continued to burn at oil processing and cargo facilities which caught fire when the 9.0-magnitude tremor struck on Friday.

And at sea Lloyds List reports an estimated 3,300 vessels were positioned off the east coast of Japan when the tsunami hit.

In  a letter to Zenakowan the All Japan Dockworkers Union and the All Japan Seamen's Union (JSU) Paddy Crumlin, MUA national secretary, ITF president and chair of the ITF dockers section pledged support on behalf of the worlds 4.7 million transport workers around the world.

"The images in the newspaper of the devastation of Sendai port are shocking, as are those from surrounding areas," he wrote.

As MUA National Secretary, Paddy Crumlin noted the recent generosity of Japanese dockworkers and their expression of sympathy and support for victims of the Queensland disaster.  This, he said, underscores the values and strength of the international union movement particularly within the ITF.

Now it is time for us to stand by Japanese working families in your time of need, he said.

Anyone wishing to donate can do so through the MUA appeal account - It is important you put your name and "Japan" in the narrative.

Account Number for internal (CU users internal transfers) account number: 802-884 4626S3 -  Japan Appeal

Account number for external transfer (non credit union member) account number: 802-884 100 011 251 - Japan Appeal

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