"Our mission to look for survivors and rescue them has come to an end," THW team leader Ulf Langemeier said on Tuesday.
He said that 100 hours after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated large swath of Japan's northeast coast, the likelihood of finding people still alive under the rubble was extremely low.
Exactly when the team, which has been in the city of Tome, 50 kilometers north of Sendai, will return to Germany is not clear, although they are expected to leave their camp today and travel by bus to northern Japan, where they will board a plane for Germany. They have been in Tome since Monday.
A second, smaller team of THW workers will stay in Japan for the time being, helping with aid coordination, evacuations and technical questions.
The rescue workers left Germany for Japan on Saturday afternoon on a plane carrying 41 emergency workers, three search-and-rescue dogs and 12 tonnes of emergency relief supplies.