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Musician Sean tells of terror as wife weeps for stricken parents

AN Irishman in Japan told today how "waves are literally washing away towns" as the country was gripped by fear of a nuclear leak.



Dubliner Sean O’Connor, a musician, told the Herald that “very few areas have been completely spared” of devastation. “My wife was very tearful and upset because her parents were not in a safe area, they had to leave their home and everything they’ve worked for as it was not safe in their area,” he said.

“The waves were literally washing away towns, whole buildings, everything is moving for a mile inland.” Greystones man Andy O'Doherty recalled the moment the 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck saying he could “feel the fear in the room”.

He said that while Japan was used to tremors yesterday's quake was like nothing he has experienced during six years living in Tokyo. “It’s hard to compare it to anything, everything was shaking, it started from the ground and everything that was higher was shaking even more.

EXPATS

“Things were falling off from all the top shelves so we had to use our safety packs in work [that all companies provide], we put on helmets.” Mr O’Doherty (29) is chairman of the Irish Network Japan and has been in contact with many Irish expats. He said this morning that he was confident that everyone was okay. Describing the aftermath, he explained: “Nobody was panicking, but you could feel the fear in the room, there were about five of us hiding underneath a table.

BLOCKED

“It lasted for just a few minutes then everyone left but trains weren't working, nor were traffic lights so the roads were blocked. Eventually I walked home, I left around 4pm and I only got there around 9pm, it felt like I was never going to get there.” There are an estimated 2,000 Irish nationals in Japan, most of whom are living in the greater Tokyo area, and the Irish Embassy has been making contact with Irish nationals in the area.

Anyone who is concerned about family or friends are advised to contact the special Crisis Centre at (01) 4180233. Irish nationals in Japan should contact the Irish Embassy in Tokyo +81 332 630695.

hnews@herald.ie