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As I scan the latest images online chronicling the aftermath of Japan’s mammoth earthquake and ensuing tsunami, my brain barely registers the surreal post-apocalyptic scape, replete with severed foundations and automobiles entombed in mud, limbs protruding from rubble, and cargo containers strewn about like Matchbox cars.

In the affected prefectures, there is simply not enough food and water for the country’s stunned refugees, as nearly half a million inhabit makeshift shelters. When the smoldering flames dissipated, an estimated 18,400 people had perished as a result of the disasters. That number is markedly rising as government authorities continue to sift through the debris amid ongoing measures to not only deliver aid but also contain and assess the nuclear emergency unfolding before them.

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