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The Globe and Mail

Ottawa offers extensive aid and relief package to Japan

Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon holds a news conference on Libyan evacuation plans at the Canadian embassy in Rome on Feb. 24, 2011.


Ottawa has outlined a wide range of expertise and technical assistance it's offering Japan as the Asian country works to recover from a massive earthquake and tsunami.

In a statement released late Sunday, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says Canada is ready to offer "any and all" possible assistance to Japan.

The aid comes hours after the first Canadian killed in the disaster was identified as Quebec-native Andre Lachapelle, 76, a missionary who had been in the country for decades.

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Mr. Cannon says Canada's relief package includes a 17-member Disaster Victim Identification team, which is ready to be deployed.

Canada is also ready to provide chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear technical expertise and equipment as Japanese authorities race to stabilize the country's nuclear reactors.

Canadian Forces assets to help with humanitarian relief efforts, relief stocks and emergency medical and engineering capabilities are also being offered.

A private emergency team from Canada arrived in Japan early Monday to assess medical needs in the region devastated by an earthquake and tsunami.

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Canadian Medical Assistance Teams (CMAT) said its team would assess and prepare for the arrival of the CMAT inflatable field hospital, medical supplies and volunteer personnel.

The Brantford, Ont.-based organization said depending on the assessment, the team will be the first of many to rotate through Japan to provide medical assistance and support.

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On its website, CMAT said it has launched a campaign to raise $20,000 to purchase a high-volume water purification system to provide clean drinking water for affected communities.

Earlier Sunday, the Quebec-based Society of Foreign Missions said one of its members was killed in the wake of Japan's terrifying tsunami that claimed the lives of thousands.

A spokesman for the society said Mr. Lachapelle was in the hard-hit port city of Sendai when the 8.9 magnitude quake struck. Having survived the temblor, Mr. Lachapelle tried to return to his home, a half hour drive away, but never made it.

"He wanted to be with his community," Eloy Roy, a colleague with the mission organization said Sunday afternoon.

It's unclear exactly how Mr. Lachapelle died, but Mr. Roy suspects he was caught in the tsunami generated by the quake as he drove along a coastal route toward his home in Shiogama.

Mr. Roy says it's believed Mr. Lachapelle drove himself to hospital, and died of a massive heart attack upon arrival.

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Of the estimated 11,000 Canadians in Japan, 2,100 are now registered with the Canadian embassy in Tokyo. The department continues to try and account for all Canadians living in or visiting Japan.

Canada upgraded its travel report for Japan, asking its citizens to exercise a high degree of caution in Tokyo and to avoid all travel to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and surrounding areas where authorities race to combat the threat of multiple nuclear reactor meltdowns.

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