Aussies stranded

Some able to flee Ja­pan, oth­ers trapped

Townsville Bulletin - - World Snapshot - by Paul Kent

AN Aus­tralian and his fam­ily stranded in Ja­pan will fly home to­day but hun­dreds more of his coun­try­men are still stuck.

Gos­ford mother Robyn Miller heard late yes­ter­day that her son Peter, stranded for five days in the town of Kaimishi with dwin­dling sup­plies, was fi­nally be­ing evac­u­ated with his wife Olga and t wo chil­dren, Dmitriy, 3, and Anas­ta­sia, 1.

But their joy was a rar­ity among the Aus­tralians still trapped in Ja­pan.

Many of the more than 2000 Aus­tralians con­sid­ered safe af­ter the 9.0-mag­ni­tude quake and tsunami hit last Fri­day are now be­com­ing in­creas­ingly frus­trated, un­able to leave the coun­try be­cause dwin­dling petrol ra­tions and dam­aged roads have left them iso­lated.

But it is not only Aus­tralian ex­pats who re­main stranded.

Seventy-s i x Aus­tralian doc­tors, paramedics and fire­fight­ers work­ing in the fish­ing town of Mi­nami San­riku, along­side Swiss and New Zealand emerg- ency per­son­nel, have also been left stranded.

NSW Fire Brigade Su­per­in­ten­dent Kim Ree­son and his crew have run out of petrol and are run­ning out of wa­ter.

They are sleep­ing in tents 20km from where they are wad­ing through de­stroyed houses look­ing for tsunami vic­tims. It is be­com­ing a ma­jor is­sue.

Supt Rea­son said they would have to join the 3km line to wait for petrol so they could use their gen­er­a­tors, a process that strips hours from res­cue ef­forts.

Frus­tra­tions are grow­ing as rel­a­tives of the Aus­tralians re­ported safe in Ja­pan say that they are not get­ting any i nfor­ma­tion from DFAT and that their phone calls are not be­ing re­turned.

An i ncreas­ing num­ber com­plain of be­ing ig­nored.

Mel­bourne’s Christo­pher Aiezza said he made sev­eral at­tempts to reach con­sulate of­fi­cials yes­ter­day with­out luck, a story that is be­ing re­peated of­ten.

Ja­son Briffa, who is 180km from the Fukushima nu­clear zone, re­mains scared about po­ten­tial nu­clear con­tam­i­na­tion.

His mother Mary claims the con­sulate told him to leave, but he has no trans­port and lit­tle sup­plies.

‘‘ He was clean­ing up the area and help­ing and has just got elec­tric­ity back on, but he doesn’t know what to do.

‘‘ He doesn’t know how to get out of there,’’ Mrs Briffa said.

An­other Aus­tralian, Mel­bourne teacher Cherie Firth, es­caped the disas­ter zone thanks only to Bri­tish con­sular of­fi­cials.


COM­ING HOME: John and Robyn Miller with a photo of son Peter, who will re­turn to Aus­tralia to­day with his wife and two chil­dren

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