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Bermudian pilot caught up in huge earthquake

Bermudian George Rose had to endure agonising hours waiting to hear if his son was safe after being caught up in the devastating Japan earthquake.

Nicholas Rose is a pilot of high-end jets and flew into Nagoya airport, south of Tokyo, at the exact time an earthquake measuring 8.9 magnitude hit the north of Japan. It triggered a massive tsunami that caused extensive damage.

He was attempting to set a speed record on a Gulf Stream jet for flights between Hong Kong and Japan but watched as the nose of his plane dipped towards the tarmac as a result of the quake.

He and his co-pilot managed to refuel the jet quickly and get out of harm's way, flying back to Hong Kong, but during the flight interval his family were unsure of his whereabouts.

Yesterday, George Rose said: “I knew he was going to be outside of Tokyo at some point, but I didn't know the exact time. I called him but the communication was quite bad. I didn't know it at the time but he was 40,000 feet in the air flying back to Hong Kong. The line kept breaking and there was long pauses, I thought he was still in Japan.”

Mr Rose said he was concerned about his son's safety but felt reassured that he had heard his voice.

His son called him a couple of hours later.

“Nick told me they were refueling in Nagoya when the planes nose dipped. They thought something had crashed into the plane, when they realised it wasn't a crash they thought the wind might have caused it as it was quite windy where they were. Then the ground started to shake and the plane was rocking and rolling and they realised it was an earthquake.”

According to the US Geological Survey's shake map, the people in Nagoya would have perceived 'strong to moderate shaking' but only 'light to very light' damage from the earthquake.

Mr Rose said: “Because they were setting a speed record it requires quite a lot of coordination between the airports and they were able to refuel quickly and take off again.

“He is currently in Macau, off of Hong Kong, and will stay in the region because his company Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation has quite a lot of clients there.”

Nick attended Mount Saint Agnes on the Island before going to the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Florida 12 years ago.

He married an American, Melissa Laws, and has two daughters Sweeden, four, and Irelynn, one. They live in Savannah, Georgia.

The Royal Gazette was unable to speak to Nick due to the time difference yesterday.

The earthquake was the most powerful one to hit Japan since modern recording was put in place. International media showed cars and homes being swept away in the north of Japan after a tsunami was triggered by the quake. Last night officials told the British Broadcasting Corporation the death count was at 350 and approximately 500 people were missing, but it is feared the final death toll will be much higher.

l Do you know any other Bermudians who were in Japan when the earthquake struck? E-mail roklynch[AT]royalgazette.bm

z More on the earthquake, pages 5 and 6

Pilot Nicolas Rose is pictured with his family.

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Published March 12, 2011 at 8:00 am (Updated March 12, 2011 at 8:03 am)

Bermudian pilot caught up in huge earthquake

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