Re­lief for Ruth as friends re­port safely


BRAY WOMAN Ruth Archbold was very anx­ious for friends liv­ing in Tokyo when she saw the news of the disas­ter un­fold­ing on Fri­day morn­ing.

‘Even though I could see the wave wash­ing away the houses on the news, I didn't re­ally take in what was hap­pen­ing and was more wor­ried that peo­ple would be in­jured by col­laps­ing build­ings like in Christchurch. By Fri­day evening though, I couldn't be­lieve how bad the sit­u­a­tion re­ally was.'

Ruth lived for one year in Ky­oto as a stu­dent in 200/2001 and then lived in Oita Pre­fec­ture for five years, two of those in a ru­ral vil­lage called Kakaji on the Ku­nisaki penin­sula, and three years in a big­ger city called Beppu.

‘It makes me quite up­set to watch it, but also in a way I feel proud at how well the Ja­panese are cop­ing un­der such hor­rific cir­cum­stances,' said Ruth on the events of the past few days. ‘I've been in earth­quakes be­fore, and it's so fright­en­ing be­cause there's noth­ing you can do, just get un­der a door­way or ta­ble and wait un­til it passes.'

She re­turned to Ja­pan in Jan­uary of this year and spent a week in Tokyo and then 10 days in Oita.

‘ There hasn't been any af­fect in Oita caused by the earth­quake. It's an hour and a half flight to Tokyo and even fur­ther to the area mostly af­fected by the earth­quake and tsunami.'

How­ever, there were early fears that a tsunami would hit the re­gion. ‘ My New Zealand friend lives in a coastal town called Ku­nimi, also on the Ku­nisaki penin­sula. She col­lected her two chil­dren from playschool early as it's very close to the sea.'

The same friend has an emer­gency bag packed with pass­ports, food and other sup­plies, and has told her chil­dren what to do in dif- fer­ent sit­u­a­tions if the quake hits.

For ex­am­ple if it's night time her el­dest child, who is four, knows he should climb down from his bunk bed and get un­der it with his lit­tle sis­ter, who is two.

‘All of my friends on Kyushu have said that even for them it is very sur­real. There is no ef­fect for them at all, and it's strange to turn on the news and know that in an­other part of Ja­pan peo­ple have no food or wa­ter or place to stay.'

Once Ruth ar­rived in work on Fri­day morn­ing, she was able to es­tab­lish very quickly that ev­ery­one she knew in Ja­pan was al­right. Most peo­ple had up­dated their sta­tus on Face­book and she chat­ted with a friend, who works at the Aus­tralian Em­bassy, on Google chat to see how things were.

‘Most peo­ple were con­tin­u­ally up­dat­ing. An­other Aus­tralian friend, Tash's hus­band, had to walk 35km from Shi­nawawa in cen­tral Tokyo to try to get to his Yoko­hama home. She was up­dat­ing his where­abouts.' Trains be­gan to run again in Yoko­hama so he was able to catch one of those, but still had to walk over 20km. Ruth's friend in the Aus­tralian em­bassy had to sleep there that night or face a five hour walk home. ‘It made me grate­ful for Face­book and the in­ter­net,' she said. ‘All my friends were ac­counted for al­most as soon as I logged on.' She also knows some Ja­panese peo­ple liv­ing in the UK, who have been in touch to say that their fam­i­lies are safe and well. One girl with whom she went to col­lege is from Fukushima, where there are fears sur­round­ing the nu­clear plant. Her fam­ily have food and wa­ter and have man­aged to get petrol for their cars.

How­ever, con­ve­nience stores and su­per­mar­kets have run out of food lead­ing to chaotic scenes.

At the mo­ment most peo­ple are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing power cuts and wa­ter short­ages. Since the nu­clear re­ac­tors aren't work­ing prop­erly it seems that they are try­ing to con­serve en­ergy with rolling pow­er­cuts, so each area has a sched­uled black out for a few hours ev­ery day.

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