Fairfax Rescue Team Heading to Japan

Friday, Mar 11, 2011  |  Updated 12:57 PM EDT
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<a title=Karyn Zaayenga, from the Arlington/Chantilly area, experienced the earthquake while working as a missionary with The Evangelical Alliance Mission in Musashino area of Tokyo. She talked with us via Skype." />

Karyn Zaayenga, from the Arlington/Chantilly area, experienced the earthquake while working as a missionary with The Evangelical Alliance Mission in Musashino area of Tokyo. She talked with us via Skype.

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The Fairfax Urban Search and Rescue team is being called upon to help in the rescue efforts in Japan following the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Friday.

The ferocious tsunami unleashed by Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Friday, killing hundreds of people as it carried away ships, cars and homes, and triggered widespread fires that burned out of control.

The Fairfax rescue team is skilled in finding survivors in the most treacherous conditions following natural disasters across the world, and they're usually the first team in and the last team out. More than 70 members of the team, which has been in existence for 25 years, will be heading to Japan.

Some of the Fairfax rescue team's most recent missions occurred in Haiti and China.  View all of their past missions here.  The team is packing its heavy equipment and will be leaving Friday afternoon or evening.

Their services are desperately needed, as thousands of people are reportedly missing across the hardest-hit parts of Japan. 

Police said 200 to 300 bodies were found in the northeastern coastal city of Sendai, the city in Miyagi prefecture, or state, closest to the epicenter. Another 137 were confirmed killed, with 531 people missing. Police also said 627 people were injured.

The magnitude-8.9 offshore quake unleashed a 23-foot (seven-meter) tsunami and was followed for hours by more than 50 aftershocks, many of them of more than magnitude 6.0.

Dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile (2,100-kilometer) stretch of coastline were shaken by violent tremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of miles (kilometers) from the epicenter. A large section of Kesennuma, a town of 70,000 people in Miyagi, burned furiously into the night with no apparent hope of being extinguished, public broadcaster NHK said.

Stay with NBCWashington.com for more information.

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