Heckington teacher calms colleagues in quake-hit Japan

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A teacher from Heckington who escaped a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan nearly two years ago has allayed fears after another quake and tidal wave hit the country.

A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struff off Japan’s eastern coast, triggering a 1m high tsunami and sparking evacuations.

The wave hit Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture - the same part of the country as was affected in March last year.

Robert Bailey, 28, is leading an English teaching project in Fukushima, the area around the nuclear power plant that went critical after the previous quake. He and his Japanese wife Mai have been running music therapy workshops for children and the elderly too. He was based at nearby Ofunato during the last quake.

He told the Standard: “Everything is alright. The tsunami alarms have now been lifted. There was a tsunami, but the sea defences held firm. Luckily, it seems nobody was seriously injured, though there were a few bumps and bruises.”

Mr Bailey, whose parents still live in Heckington and run the pharmacy, was more worried about the newer foreign nationals who have never experienced an earthquake of this magnitude before. “We’ve been busy taking care of them and making sure they have someone to talk to. For the rest of us it’s a regular part of life in Japan. But, I guess everybody is a little more on edge because of what happened last year.

“Most local residents hardly reacted, except for checking their phones or turning on the radio, but for the foreign nationals with limited Japanese it can be a lot harder.”

He and his wife were staying with some of the younger foreign teachers tonight and helping to translate the information on the TV.

Robert said: “I was actually on the eighth floor in a Board of Education meeting at the time, so there was a lot of movement in the building.

“The biggest concern we have now is whether this was the main earthquake or a pre-quake. Last year, we had an earthquake like this on March 9 before the March 11 (main earthquake), so we’re waiting going to keep on alert over the next few days.”

* Read more in this week’s Sleaford Standard.