HONOLULU – The people of Tanohata Village, in the Iwate Prefecture, on Japan’s northeast coast “are slowly, but surely walking on the path to recovery as a united body,” according to Tanohata Village Mayor Hiroshi Ishihara. The tiny village was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011.
Now, a sign being returned from Hawaii may provide further sense of hope and renewal. Today, the large wooden sign from the village, which washed up on a beach near Kahuku, Oahu, was loaded into the cargo hold of a Hawaiian Airlines jet and shipped to Sendai International Airport. From there a delegation from Tanohata Village will transport it home.
“This small gesture, a result of cooperation between state and federal agencies, the government of Japan, and Hawaiian Airlines, symbolizes the concern the people of Hawaii continue to have for the victims of the 2011 tsunami,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “We hope, in some small measure, the return of this sign from the distant shores of Hawaii will further the healing and recovery of the people of Tanohata Village.”
In a letter sent by Mayor Ishihara, he writes, “Thank you very much for finding and saving the sign – our village’s irreplaceable memento – which was lost during the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, from a tremendous amount of debris items – we imagine as many as the number of stars in the sky – that ended up on Kahuku Beach on the Oahu Island. We are truly and deeply moved by the fact that you took the time to deliver the message to us, connecting many people and their compassion. Our village will treasure the memento that is coming back to our hands through your cooperation.”
“The world watched stunned and heartbroken by the devastation the tsunami caused in terms of loss of life and property,” said William J. Aila, Jr., the chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). “My department has worked closely and in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to track and recover Japan tsunami debris believed to have washed up in Hawaiian waters,” Aila explained. “Debris that makes its way to Hawaii is usually returned at the owner’s expense; however, Hawaiian Airlines volunteered to ship the sign back at no charge.”
The Tanohata village sign is one of fewer than 20 items that have been positively identified as arriving in Hawaii as a result of the Japan tsunami.
Kyle Koyanagi, regional coordinator for NOAA’s Marine Debris Program in Hawaii said, “The websites both NOAA and DLNR established for people to report possible tsunami debris has resulted in numerous small vessels (skiffs) and other items being recovered. People are asked to provide specific information about where they find debris and to take pictures. Based on this information a determination is made about whether further investigation is necessary to prevent the introduction of invasive species or other things that could damage Hawaii’s environment.”
Some of the Tanohata Village sign’s lettering broke off during the tsunami or during its open ocean voyage from Japan to Hawaii. Koyanagi was instrumental in coordinating with the Japanese Consulate in Honolulu to try and identify the origin of the sign.
Consul General of Japan in Honolulu, Toyoei Shigeeda said, “The lettering on the sign, 「しまのこし村営住宅, means “Shimanokoshi village housing.” The people of Tanohata village wanted it returned for an exhibit and to serve as a useful reference for future generations to learn about and understand the tsunami disaster of March 11, 2011. We’re all excited that now, more than three years after the tsunami, this sign can be returned as a reminder and symbol of what was lost.”
The sign was wrapped and crated by DLNR staff before Hawaiian Airlines cargo personnel loaded it onto HA 441 for the direct flight to Sendai. Tim Strauss, vice president of cargo for Hawaiian Airlines, remarked: “We deeply value our relationship with the people of Japan, and it is our great honor to do our part in returning this precious piece of cargo to the people of Tanohata.”
To report large quantities of marine debris, debris with living organisms on it, or debris too large to remove by hand, call (808) 587-0400 and then email any photos to:
DLNR.firstname.lastname@example.org and DisasterDebris@noaa.gov
WAILUKU – The Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee will consider a bill on Monday, July 28, at 1:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber in Wailuku, to ban the use and sale of polystyrene disposable food service containers, Committee Chair Elle Cochran announced today.
The bill, introduced by Councilmember Michael Victorino, would prohibit food establishments and vendors from using or selling polystyrene food containers. The most well-known polystyrene product is Styrofoam, which is widely used by residents for plate lunches and take-out containers.
“When ingested, polystyrene may become lethal to our marine animals and birds. It is not biodegradable and can exist in our landfills for hundreds of years. These widely recognized environmental impacts show good cause for consideration of a countywide ban,” Cochran said. “It is our duty as council members to implement policies that will protect and preserve our natural resources.”
Exemptions in the bill include prepared foods packaged outside the county and polystyrene foam coolers and ice chests specifically designed for multiple re-use.
Food providers will be able to apply for a one-year exemption if they can show that no reasonable alternative to polystyrene containers is available or if compliance with the ban would cause significant economic hardship.
“Considering our community’s collective success and ability to adjust to the plastic bag ban implemented in 2011, it seems to be a reasonable next step that we address the issues surrounding polystyrene containers,” Cochran said. “The bill would promote environmental awareness and support responsible waste management.”
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa – Coast Guard and local agencies are searching for a man who went missing during a plane crash approximately one mile from Pago Pago Tuesday night.
Search efforts for 58-year-old Babar Suleman continued throughout the day and suspended Wednesday night due to decreased visibility. The search resumed Thursday morning and will continue throughout the day.
The Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu is currently coordinating search efforts with the HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point, the American Samoa Marine Patrol, American Samoa Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, a Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel and good Samaritan Tug Lillie.
American Samoa is currently under small craft and high surf advisories. Weather conditions will continue to be closely monitored.
Debris recovered from the crash includes sections of the fuselage and interior components of the plane.
Watchstanders are using the Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System to determine the search area. The Hercules crew dropped a Self-locating Data Marker Buoy to calculate current drift, water temperature and sea conditions. That information is then used in the SAROPS to better ascertain the optimal search area.
At 9:55 p.m. Tuesday, Coast Guard watchstanders at the JRCC received notification from the Regional Command Center in New Zealand that a Beechcraft Bonanza with two passengers aboard crashed into the water approximately one mile from shore. The RCC in New Zealand attained that information from the plane’s Emergency Locator Transmitter.
The Hercules crew departed Honolulu at 2:38 a.m. Wednesday and arrived at the crash site approximately eight hours later.
Wednesday’s total search area consisted of 275 nautical square miles. Thursday’s projected search area consists of 1,027 nautical square miles.
Maui Water Department crews have completed their repairs on a 12-inch main waterline that broke in Kahului this morning - closing the Ka’ahumanu-Pu’unene traffic zone around 5:30 a.m. today.
DWS spokesperson Jacky Takakura reports that crews closing up the repair site and traffic should be back to normal by noon. To minimize public impact, follow up work is scheduled for Sunday. Water has been restored to Maui Mall, Maui Clinic and Bank of Hawaii.
Department of Water Supply personnel are currently working to repair a 12-inch main line break at the intersection of Kaahumanu Avenue and Puunene Avenue this morning. Maui Mall has no water; however, crews are installing a bypass to get water to the Mall while the break is being fixed. Estimated time to fix the break is around noon, today.
Motorists are advised to drive with caution in the area. Traffic on Kaahumanu will be affected in both directions; however, both sides are open. Motorists should drive with caution and be prepared for slight delays.
Maui Mall, Maui Clinic, and Bank of Hawaii have no water until a bypass can be installed. The break was first reported around 5:30 a.m. today.
Please call the DWS service line (270-7633) only in the event of an emergency.
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — Coast Guard and local agencies are responding to a plane crash near Pago Pago International Airport after a single-engine plane crashed into the water Tuesday night.
Coast Guard watchstanders at the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received notification from the Regional Command Center in New Zealand that a Beechcraft Bonanza with two passengers aboard crashed into the water approximately one mile from shore at 9:55 p.m.
One passenger, 17-year-old Haris Suleman, was recovered unresponsive by the American Samoa Marine Patrol. A U.S. teenager who was attempting to set a record for an around-the-world flight has died in a crash over the Pacific Ocean, a family spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Annie Hayat said the plane flown by 17-year-old Haris Suleman went down shortly after leaving Pago Pago in American Samoa on Tuesday night. Suleman and his Pakistani-born father, Babar Suleman, were on board.
Hayat said the body of Haris Suleman had been recovered, but crews were still looking for his father.
An HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point launched at 9:35 p.m. (HST) and is on-scene along with an American Samoa Marine Patrol boat searching for the missing passenger, 58-year-old Babar Suleman.
“The Coast Guard would like to express our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the Sulemans,” said Michael Cobb, command duty officer at JRCC. “We will continue to do our best to locate Mr. Babar Suleman.”
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