Wave of horror hits home
COFFS Coast residents who have friends and family in Japan are following the news anxiously as that nation’s greatest natural disaster of modern times unfolds.
Coffs Harbour City councillor Rodney Degens said his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Nobuko and Tetsuo Momosaki, had been in Sydney waiting for a connecting flight to take them back to Japan when the quake hit, but airports in Japan were now closed, preventing them from reaching their destination in Nakama City in Northern Kyushu.
Mr and Mrs Momosaki are returning to Coffs Harbour, extending their stay with Cr Degens and his wife, Rikako.
Cr Degens, who speaks fluent Japanese, said the disaster would affect the whole of Japan in various ways.
He said Japanese news bulletins had featured one whole town, “a sleepy village packed with houses”, which instantly became a harbour following the earthquake, drowning not only residents but emergency workers and fire trucks attempting to evacuate them with only 15 minutes of warning.
He said at least one car factory had been forced to close down because three major parts factories had been hit by the earthquake and tsunami.
“The Japanese economy is quite fragile at the moment,” he said.
“The Japanese government is still meeting to decide the best responses for everything.”
Cr Degens’ mother, Patricia, a long-time stalwart of the Coffs Harbour branch of the Australia Japan Society, has heard sobering news from a member of the society in Japan, an Australian national with a Japanese husband and nine children.
Jodie Higurashi wrote asking “for all your prayers for all those who are suffering here in Japan at the moment”.
“My family is fine and we are camping outside in tents, doing Aussie-style with a barbecue,” Mrs Higurashi wrote.
“Email is working and I check it regularly.
“We are in Chiba and reasonably close to the airport, and in quite a safe area.”
Pat Degens said the family was camping out because they were afraid to go back inside their house, in spite of the cold weather.
Fear of major aftershocks is haunting many Japanese.
The country is at the end of winter as Australia is at the end of summer.