As Japan tallies the damage and lost lives caused by Friday’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami, two local Japanese are taking comfort in knowing their immediate families are safe.
“I’m kind of worried, but I’m just keeping an eye on the news to see what’s happening,” Sato said. “It’s scary.”
Sato said her mother sounded calm when they spoke at 2 a.m. Japan time, as they were still feeling aftershocks every 10 minutes.
“She said she was glad she didn’t have to go to work, because they shut the trains down,” Sato said. Although the family could not make contact with their grandparents who live in northern Japan, they did not sound worried, Sato said.
Sato is the only family member in Canada. She’ll be in contact with her mother as family members continue to check in with one another.
Ishii, 18, said he phoned his parents in Yokohama Friday morning to learn they were fine.
“They were worried, they’d never felt that kind of large earthquake before,” said Ishii about the earthquake-prone Japan. “Everyone was scared.” He said the first and second quakes were small compared to the third one. Japan is still feeling the aftershocks.
Ishii’s second brother was working construction on the twelfth floor of a Tokyo highrise balcony when the earthquake hit.
“He told me he ran inside the building and that he was so scared,” Ishii said. It took five hours for his brother to return home from work in the frantic traffic.
Reports Friday say Japanese officials estimate at least 1,000 people have been killed, with hundreds more injured and countless buildings and homes destroyed.
The government warned there could be a small radiation leak from a nuclear reactor whose cooling system was knocked out by the quake. Sato said they shut down power in the northern part of the country.
The earthquake is the most powerful since Japan started keeping records 140 years ago.
Look for updates on this story online at www.drumhellermail.com and in next week's publication of the Drumheller Mail.