Scared stu­dents caught by quake

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - Liam But­ter­worth

A GROUP of Ja­panese stu­dents ran out of Narita In­ter­na­tional Air­port as the coun­try’s largest ever recorded earth­quake shook the ter­mi­nal and doors around them while they were wait­ing to fly to North Queens­land.

Stu­dent Seika Fuku­sawa, 17, said her trip to Townsville had been de­layed a day as the quake rocked the Narita In­ter­na­tional Air­port, lead­ing to run­way clo­sures.

The death toll from the mag­ni­tude 9.0 earth­quake and the en­su­ing tsunami could rise to 10,000 and authorities are bat­tling to avoid a re­ac­tor melt­down af­ter a sec­ond ex­plo­sion at a Fukushima pre­fec­ture nu­clear power sta­tion.

Ms Fuku­sawa, from Azu­mino city in Nagano pre­fec­ture, north-west of Tokyo, said it was scary to see the air­ports build­ings and planes shak­ing and the fear of the wait­ing pas­sen­gers.

‘‘ The ground was shak­ing and the doors were rat­tling,’’ she said. ‘‘ Ev­ery­one ran and fled.’’ Ms Fuku­sawa, who has ex­pe­ri­enced smaller earth­quakes, said many peo­ple were cry­ing in the air­port.

Tokyo’s two ma­jor air­ports, Haneda and Narita, were closed af­ter the quake and the stu­dents ar­rived in Townsville on Sun­day, af­ter trav­el­ling from Cairns.

The fam­ily and friends of all 18 stu­dents, from the Mat­sumoto Agata­gaoka High School, are all safe.

‘‘ The earth­quake was scary,’’ Ms Fuku­sawa said.

‘‘( But) the tsunamis are more wor­ry­ing than the earth­quakes,’’ she said.

A build-up of hy­dro­gen around a re­ac­tor caused a sec­ond ex­plo­sion at the Fukushima power sta­tion yes­ter­day morn­ing, in­jur­ing six peo­ple, but the sta­tion’s op­er­a­tors TEPCO said the re­ac­tor con­tainer was not breached and there was no ma­jor rise in ra­di­a­tion.

More than 200,000 peo­ple have been evac­u­ated to out­side a 20km ra­dius of the plant, but 746 peo­ple, mainly pa­tients, el­derly peo­ple and their car­ers, stayed be­hind.

The Nagano stu­dents are in Townsville to study English and will be staying with host fam­i­lies for the next week. Ms Fuku­sawa said she was hop­ing to im­prove her English and was look­ing for­ward to do­ing some tourist ac­tiv­i­ties around Townsville, es­pe­cially go­ing to the beach.

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