Norfolk men tell of Japan earthquake trauma

Two Norfolk men who live in Tokyo have described the terrifying scenes of Friday's devastating earthquake, and one feared he would die.

Geoffrey Tudor, 67, a former Norwich resident, was on an underground train stopped at a station in Tokyo when the first earthquake of the day hit, at 2.48pm Japanese time.

He said: 'I was aware of an alarm buzzing and then the train started rocking like a ship in a gale. Everybody got off the train but the platform was vibrating. I thought that the underground station was about to collapse and that we would all die.

'I decided to get out of station and get into the open air. Hundreds of people in nearby offices did the same. With the subway stopped I didn't know what to do. My mobile phone did not work but my wife was working at the local town hall so I knew she would be okay. I decided to backtrack and return to the safe haven of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan where I can get food, drink and information about the earthquake.'

Mr Tudor, who attended City of Norwich School and lived in Norwich until his early 20s, said there were two massive after-shocks in the next 45 minutes.

He then took a taxi to the Press Club building, which was a more secure premises, and stayed there until the subways re-opened about six hours later.

Mr Tudor, who works as an aviation consultant and writes for a transport industry magazine, said: 'Many people with further distances to travel stayed where they were as the main commuter lines were still shut. With no trains, Tokyo's commuters were stuck. Hotels were suddenly fully booked and the waiting time at central Tokyo taxi stands was about five hours.'

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He added: 'The major damage is to the northeast of Tokyo and we are safe. But there are many communities that have suffered tremendously.'

Duncan Walsh, 29, moved to Japan from Swanton Novers, near Fakenham, in 2004 and was in his Tokyo apartment when the massive quake hit.

He said: 'It started off very gently. We have earthquakes very often and we had a pretty bad one on Wednesday, which was obviously the build-up to this big earthquake.

'I really didn't think much of it and then suddenly it got bigger and bigger and it lasted a really long time. I have never felt an earthquake of that magnitude or duration.'

Mr Walsh and his brother Selwyn, who also lives in Tokyo, were both unhurt.

The Walsh brothers are best known in Norfolk for being in the indie-rock group The Watanabes. They were due to release their new album You're Dancing, I'm Absorbed, on Saturday before heading on a tour around the country, but all plans have been put on hold.