WORRIED Hampshire-based relatives of people in earthquake-hit Japan have been ringing home to get news of their loved ones.
TV images of the quake – the most powerful tremor to strike the country since records began – have been difficult to watch for people desperate to hear from family members.
Petersfield-based chairwoman of the Southern Counties Japan Society, Wendy Arnold, said she knew there were local families still desperately trying to locate loved ones.
‘It has been a shattering experience for them,’ she said. ‘All many people can do is wait for news.
‘The devastation is hard for us to imagine.’
Hairdresser Emiko Honey, 49, from Petersfield, has family living in Onagawa, which is one of the regions affected by the quake.
She said her relatives had not been hurt, but their house had been rocked to its foundations by the tremor.
‘Things were falling of shelves and furniture was toppling over,’ she said. ‘They were scared but managed to stay safe.
‘But we have all been alarmed by news that the nearby nuclear power station is on fire.
‘I hope that nothing happens to make the situation even worse. I feel so powerless just stuck here, there is nothing I can do.’
Dr Kazuya Koyama, who works in the University of Portsmouth’s cosmology department, said he had spoken to his parents, who live near Kyoto, after seeing the news.
‘Thankfully they were not injured,’ he said.
‘But it is terrible to see on television what has happened.
‘I was in Kyoto when the last big earthquake hit 15 years ago in Kobe, and it was a terrifying experience.
‘We just learn to live with earthquakes in Japan, but nobody expected something this devastating.
‘My heart goes out to all the people affected and I just hope the problems afterwards aren’t too awful.’
A team of specialist firefighters from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Urban Search and Rescue team are preparing to go to Japan to help with the recovery effort.
Members of the same team have just returned from dealing with the earthquake in New Zealand.
The Japanese earthquake measured 8.9 on the Richter scale and caused a tsunami to sweep through the north-east of the country.
Japanese TV showed cars, ships and buildings swept away by a wall of water, and police have reported over 300 bodies found in the port city of Sendai.
LATEST ON THE QUAKE n Page 4