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Bermudians shaken by Japan’s earthquake

As Japan struggles to come together following one of the greatest natural disasters on record, Bermudians in the country are sharing their experiences.

Teniko Hassell, a 22-year-old student enrolled at Temple University's Japan campus, said the experience was the most terrifying of his life.

“Some people started to get scared and crawl underneath the table. I was somewhat petrified with fear because I didn't think the quake was going to be so big,” he said.

“I can deal with hurricanes, but the ground actually moving is a whole other monster.”

On Friday, the nation was rocked by an 8.9 - 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the strongest recorded earthquake to ever hit Japan, followed by a devastating tsunami that washed away entire buildings.

Damage to several nuclear power plants caused around 80,000 people to be evacuated in Fukushima as fears of a nuclear meltdown loom.

Officials estimate that the disaster has caused more than 10,000 deaths in the northern provinces, with aftershocks still ripping through the nation.

Mr Hassell said he was in his school's cafeteria in Tokyo doing homework when the earthquake struck.

“I have never been so terrified,” he said. “We've had some tremors before, most recently Wednesday, but they only lasted a couple of seconds.

“Once the quake stopped we were to evacuate the building, but that didn't make me feel any better.

“I attempted the Bermudian way of calming one self by having a beer or two, but it didn't really help. The whole experience made me miss my family a lot.”

He said in the aftermath of the disaster, the atmosphere was sombre.

“Every television that worked had a crowd of people around it,” he said. “Traffic was crazy, and across the major streets were millions of people walking home.”

Richard Flood, a sonar tech on the US Navy

Mustin, was onboard the ship at port at Yokosuka when he felt the surge of the sea.

His mother, Debbie Flood, said she was awoken Friday morning with a phone call from her son.

“He said that there had been an earthquake, but he was alright,” she said. “The electricity and telephone lines were down, but for some reason his cell phone still worked.”

It was only later that she realised the scale of the disaster.

“Thank goodness he called me first. Otherwise, I don't know what I would be thinking,” she said. “I have my cell phone strapped to me at all times now.”

While the

Mustin has been deployed to join relief efforts, she said her son is not onboard.

“He was supposed to be transferred to Seattle, but his tickets had not been issued yet. Then I heard that the ship was being deployed, and I had no idea if he was onboard. We didn't know what was going to happen.

“We recently got confirmation that the ship has been deployed, but he is not on it.”

Nicholas Rose, a Bermudian pilot, said he had just finished refuelling his gulf Stream jet when the earthquake hit.

“We suddenly felt the airplane rock forwards and backwards. It felt as if a vehicle was impacting the aircraft and then releasing it with a constant motion and force.

“Shortly thereafter, I was informed by a Japanese colleague of a major earthquake taking place in nearby Tokyo.”

l

Further stories on the earthquake and tsunami, on Pages 7 and 8, and Business section, Page 9.

A car sits on top of a small building in a destroyed neighbourhood in Sendai, Japan, yesterday after it was washed into the area by the tsunami that hit northeastern Japan.

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Published March 14, 2011 at 10:02 am (Updated March 14, 2011 at 10:02 am)

Bermudians shaken by Japan’s earthquake

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