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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

"I knew i had to escape"

November 22, 2016

Tohoku coastal residents rush to high ground after quake in fear





Residents listen to tsunami information on the radio at a shelter in Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture, on Nov. 22, 2016. (Mainichi)

On the morning of Nov. 22, a powerful earthquake and tsunami hit the Tohoku region of Japan, which was hit hardest in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The epicenter was located off the coast of Fukushima, but shocks were felt in a wide swath of the country from Hokkaido to the Chugoku region, and tsunami warnings and advisories were issued -- and later lifted -- for the northeastern coast of Japan.

Many residents on the coast of Fukushima Prefecture evacuated to public facilities and other sites on high ground. Some 80 people evacuated to Higashi Shogai Gakushu Center in the Haramachi Ward of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture.

"My home is right across from the nursing home where many elderly people died in the tsunami caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake," said Sachiko Nakagawa, 60, a resident of the Kamishibusa district of Haramachi Ward. "When I learned that a tsunami warning had been issued, I knew I had to escape, so I jumped into my car."

Atsuko Tanabe, 62, lives in the Kaibama district of Haramachi Ward, another area that saw many casualties in the 2011 disaster. "I felt the shaking and jumped out of bed, grabbed just my wallet, cell phone and cell phone charger, and evacuated right away," she said.

Hirono Municipal Junior High School in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Hirono, where its residents had all been evacuated in the past due to the ongoing nuclear disaster, sent a text to its students early in the morning, instructing them to put their safety first. In Fukushima Prefecture, classes were cancelled for the day at 61 elementary and junior high schools and 24 high schools, primarily in the prefecture's coastal areas.

According to the Fukushima Prefectural Government, 3,119 people in the prefectural city of Iwaki had evacuated to 59 community centers and other facilities as of 9:30 a.m., and at one point, around 350 cars stood by on nearby roads. In Minamisoma, approximately 250 people had evacuated to five facilities within the city, while some 70 people evacuated to parks on high ground.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of injuries from the quake. In Iwaki, a woman in her 60s fell off her bed and suffered minor injuries, while a woman in her 20s experienced hyperventilation. Both were taken to the hospital, but their conditions are not life-threatening.

People with looks of concern stared down at the ocean from Hiyoriyama Park in the city center of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. Masako Kudo, 40, from the Iwate Prefecture city of Takizawa, who was on a family trip to Ishinomaki when the quake struck, held her five-year-old daughter's hand as she said, "We're not familiar with the area so we came here, thinking that we better take action as quickly as possible."

At around 7:40 a.m., radio announcers reported that tsunami had been observed in Ishinomaki. A local 68-year-old man who was listening to the report looked worried, saying, "The tsunami might get high." He said he'd stayed in an evacuation center for over seven months after the 2011 disasters, and added, "The shaking wasn't as bad as it was then, but this reminds me of that time."



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