Monday, March 14, 2011

Unbelievable Account of the Japan Earthquake

I just found this blog post. If you skip down beyond the garish pictures you'll find an incredible, first-hand account of what happened to someone working in the Wakabayashi ward of Sendai. Perhaps more amazing is what happened to her son, who went out to sea after the earthquake, to save their boat from being smashed, evidently unaware of the scale of the unfolding disaster. I've done a tentative translation of the whole article:

11 march

I was in a meeting concerning working over the weekend in the afternoon, on the 3rd floor of my workplace in Sendai city’s Wakabayashi-ward. There was a loose rocking, and just as I say “Oh, an earthquake...?” the shaking became very violent. My superiors shouted out “Everyone sit down! Keep your heads down!”. Amongst the screams, I tightly grasped the hand of one of the girls I get on with, and we crouched down.

Our superiors held us too, shielding our shoulders, as around us the shaking failed to die down. Machines fell over, glass smashed, and a flatcar rampaged on its casters. Then the power went out. As things quietened down, we dashed out to take refuge in the parking area, and there were many aftershocks.

Once, I tried to get to the locker room, but the lockers were a complete wreck. I got into my car to drive home, but the traffic was completely jammed. My phone wouldn’t connect. Even in my car there were numerous aftershocks. The traffic lights were all out, so I forced the car through the traffic to get home. On the way, I got a mail from my oldest son, who lives in Soma, Fukushima:

“House in Soma a mess. I’m going to put the boat out to see now. Anyway, I’ve no injuries. Chiiko and Shoko are taking refuge. Taka is also fine, it seems. That’s all for now.”

For the time being, I was relieved.

First I went to the nursery to pick up my daughter, then leaving my car at home, I went to the school on foot to pick up my second son. Both of them had not even a slight injury, and were fine... But I couldn’t get through to my husband. We waited in the car in the parking space by our house for him to come back, and just as it looked like night was coming, he arrived. Everyone in the family was safe.

But then the news came in: The beach area of Soma had been completely destroyed in the tsunami.

I’d heard Chiiko and Shoko had fled, but my eldest was putting the boat out to sea to protect it with his uncle. After that I couldn’t get through to them. I could let out nothing but tears. I was so worried. I thought that to have your own son die before you was the worst thing a parent could allow to happen, and so I couldn’t stop crying.

And then, I was able to get through. He told me they’d returned safely, and I cried again in relief.

He and his uncle headed out to the tsunami, and as they approached the summit of the wave, their engine cut out. On passing over the wave, it started again and they came down from the top of the wave... Apparently, this happened many times.

Once the tsunami passed, they returned to the beach...

They say that it was a mountain of rubble and bodies. They had to walk over all this to get to the shelter... My husband’s mum and grandmother where swallowed by the wave, but somehow were rescued. My parents, sister, nephews and nieces are all alive.

At this time, so many people have contacted, worrying about me. I don’t have all your real names, but there is a staggering number.

Here is a list of my internet acquaintance’s:

[list of names of people who have contacted]

If these people are able to see my situation in this article, then I’m truly happy. My husband’s family home has disappeared without a trace.

The fight starts from here. I’ll do whatever I can! And at the end, a new wind is revolving. I’m thankful to the courage that got me in touch.

From Mizuho

It seems totally unbelievable. I can't imagine what it must have been like to try and approach that tsunami head on.

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