ITU has deployed 78 Thuraya satellite phones equipped with GPS to facilitate search and rescue efforts along with 13 Iridium satellite phones as well as 37 Inmarsat Broadband Global Area Network terminals. An additional 30 Inmarsat terminals are also ready for dispatch. The equipment can be charged by car batteries and are also supplied with solar panels to enable operations during power outages.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Tour had communicated with the Government of Japan, expressing profound sorrow at the loss of life, injuries and human displacement as well as the extensive damage to property and infrastructure. With the deployment of emergency telecommunications equipment, Dr Tour said,
ITU is prepared to help the Government and people of Japan in every way possible in their hour of need and to deal with the colossal tragedy that has overwhelmed the country with unimaginable loss of life and property. I hope the deployment of emergency telecommunications equipment will assist the Government of Japan in search and rescue operations and re-establish vital communication links.
Re-establishing communications is a critical tool particularly in the immediate aftermath of disasters to ensure timely intervention and support for the victims and to assist in rescue and rehabilitation efforts.