Welwyn Garden City woman describes ‘terrifying’ Japanese earthquake

A WGC woman living in Japan has told of the emotional impact the massive earthquake and tsunami has had on the rest of the country.

Holly Smale has been living in Japan since August 2009, and resides in Nichinan, a small fishing village on the south coast.

Despite being around 900 miles away from where the quake struck in the north, Holly said villagers are still living in fear of aftershocks and the uncertainty surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which has been hit by three explosions and is at risk of meltdown.

“The tremor was barely noticeable, and the tsunami was smaller than two metres by the time it got to us,” she said. “The emotional impact, though, has been massive.

“Some people have been trying to get hold of relatives and friends, and the atmosphere is grief stricken. It’s almost eerie now: everything is dark because everyone is turning off electricity so that if can be sent north.”


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Holly, 29, said children at the school where she teaches English had started collecting money, and villagers were sending blankets and water to affected areas.

“Everyone is really aware that if the earthquake had been a little south, it would have been us destroyed instead,” Holly added. “Seeing the footage is horrifying; they’re the same kind of rice fields I live next to, and the same kind of houses. It’s so similar, and I think that just makes it even more real for my community.

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“We’re all holding our breath as we wait for the aftershocks which are expected to be nearly as strong. We’re all ready to evacuate in case it happens further south this time, so the whole country is living in terror and unsure of what is going to happen next. It’s truly terrifying.

“There’s nothing any of us can do right now but wait, send thoughts and help to the north and hope that things don’t get any worse.”

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