Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Japan earthquake: ‘It was scariest moment of my life’

In this image fromJapan's NHK TV video footage, vehicles are washed away by tsunami in coastal area in eastern Japan after Japan was struck by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, March 11, 2011.

A teacher from Co Down watched as her microwave oven flew across the kitchen when the quake hit her house in Tokyo.

Jackie Collins (36) from Newry said she feared for her life when the ground started to move and plates smashed on the floor around her.

“I have never been as scared in all my life — I really was frightened,” she said.

“Fortunately I was at home, but I ran outside just in case my wee apartment collapsed.

“There was just an eerie silence and you could see the telegraph poles shaking and feel the ground moving underneath you.”

Jackie, who has lived in Tokyo with husband Toshi Suginaga for almost five years, teaches English at a nearby university.

She said she panicked after waiting hours for Toshi, an accountant at a phone company, to come home from work.

“I wasn’t able to contact him or his parents, so I was really |worried,” she said.

“When he eventually came home he told me that the third floor ceiling at his company had collapsed. He said people have been lining the roads and walking home as all transportation has been suspended.

“Many areas just outside of Tokyo are now without power — everyone is petrified.”

Jackie said the city had been “chaotic” since the quake, with many people still struggling to get in touch with loved ones.

“Many people have not yet arrived home due to the buses and trains stopping,” she said.

“We can still feel little tremors — and I am terrified of aftershocks — which we have been warned will continue for the next few days.

“I am ready to run out the door if needs be, and I have my |husband's motorbike helmet at the ready.”

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