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Flintshire woman recalls Japanese earthquake experience

A Flintshire teacher has described the terrifying moment her building shook during the Japanese earthquake. FRANCESCA ELLIOTT reports.

KATHERINE Nolan, 26, of Cefn y Bedd, has been teaching English in Kyoto, Japan since 2009.

The biggest earthquake ever to hit Japan, measuring 8.9 by the US Geological survey, hit the country at 2.46pm local time on Friday, March 11.

Thousands of people have been killed, primarily along the north eastern coastal region of the country, where a huge tsunami swept through the area destroying everything in its path.

The official death toll currently stands at 3,000, but thousands of people are still unaccounted for and 500,000 people have been made homeless.

More than 300 miles away in Kyoto, near the centre of the country, Katherine was working at an English language school.

“I was on the ninth floor teaching a lesson when I felt the building start to shake and sway,” she said.

“The quake was quite far away but it was felt all over Japan.

“There have been quite a few earth quakes while I’ve been here, but this was the worst I’ve felt.

“When the building started shaking I was just wondering what the hell was going on, but the Japanese people were on the case.

“They all started filing out of the building and stopping meetings.

“My lesson stopped for a while, but because there was no damage in Kyoto I think it will be business as normal here.

“I can’t believe how much damage there has been elsewhere though. It’s horrible, I can’t believe it. Everyone is glued to the news, it’s so shocking.”

Flintshire students involved with a youth exchange programme with the Murata region of Japan, the area affected by the quake and tsunami, are concerned about host families and friends they met while on the exchange.

Co-ordinator Gwenno Jones, arts, culture and events manager at Flintshire council, said: “The area affected is where the exchange programme goes to and receives students from so we are very concerned.

“We have no students out there as they go in August.

“They live with families for a month so become very close so obviously they are now very worried about them.”

County councillor Carol Ellis, who visited the Japanese embassy last year during her role as deputy mayor for Buckley, said she is offering her condolences to the embassy on behalf of the people of Flintshire.

“We’re all thinking of the poor people affected,” she said.

“Buckley has a lot of links with Japan, we set up the original exchange scheme and I gave a talk at the embassy about the country’s link with our county.

“They were extremely friendly hospitable people and I want them to know we are all behind them.”