Aylsham man rescued after Japanese earthquake

An Aylsham man was rescued from an isolated Japanese hotel after being stranded by the Sendai earthquake and enduring days of terrifying aftershocks.

James French, 28, was on a skiing holiday when the huge earthquake first rumbled 20 miles beneath the coast of the country on Friday March 11.

When it first hit he was on a ski lift, said father Steve French, 55, from Aylsham.

'He said that the trees started swaying and the poles started swaying,' he said.

'He wasn't that far up but he had to be helped down.

'He had to ski down the mountain side. He's not a bad skier but he said it was a bit steep and quite frightening.'

Mr French said that the bullet train which had carried his son to Yamagata, the nearest city to the resort, was later swept away by the enormous tsunami which ravaged much of the Japanese coast following the earthquake.

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Because he was on high ground at the time, in the town of Zao, he was safe from floods, but at serious risk from avalanches from nearby mountains such as Mount Zao.

After the first quake he had to endure around 200 strong aftershocks, one of which shook his bed across the room while he slept.

He also had to stay confined to the hotel with no power as it started to snow, due to fears that it could carry radiation from the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station which had been rocked by several explosions over recent days.

Mr French, who works as an accountant in London but studied at Gresham's Prep and Senior Schools, managed to escape the confines of his hotel thanks to a passing Sky TV news crew.

They had arrived at the resort he was staying in and offered to take him on to Tokyo.

Although his flight back from the capital city was cancelled he expects to be able to fly home to the UK on Saturday from Osaka.