Bukidnon prof near Tokyo: “Only prayers are keeping us calm here”

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/13 March) — “Only prayers are keeping us calm here,” Bukidnon State University professor Mercidita Villamayor, who is presently on training in a language institute near Tokyo, said of Friday’s quake, tsunami and reports of a feared nuclear meltdown. Villamayor has been on training at the Japan Foundation’s Japanese Language Institute in Kita Urawa, Saitama, 25 kilometers from Tokyo, for at least three months now.

She said there are three Filipinos with her in the dormitory and they have been staying in the  lobby and living room observing aftermath
tremors.

According to an Associated Press report, the magnitude-8.9 offshore quake struck at 2:46 p.m. local time and was the biggest to hit Japan since record-keeping began in the late 1800s. It ranked as the fifth-largest earthquake in the world since 1900 and was nearly 8,000 times stronger than one that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, last month.
The death toll has been rising since Friday’s quake, with figures expected to reach thousands.
The quake also sent governments around the Pacific Ocean, including the Philippines, to alarm citizens of possible tsunami impact although
the alert was lifted a few hours later.

Villamayor, a 2010 Metrobank outstanding teacher awardee, said the disaster is hitting them on three fronts:  the quake on land, the tsunami on water, and fire and liquefied gas explosion on air.

But their worst fear, she said, is a nuclear meltdown that’s why they don’t go out.
“The nuclear plant located in the province is the most fearful, she said. “We hope it will not rain.”

The nuclear power plant where the explosion occurred Saturday is in Fukushima which is about 250 km north of  Tokyo and 80 kilometers
south of Sendai.

Villamayor said the quake was so strong but the aftershocks were also dangerous. But she said the quakes did not destroy their well-designed
building.

The situation as of Sunday afternoon, Villamayor said, is “not yet stable.”

Villamayor said they were like refugees queuing for food supply, mainly sardines and instant rice.

But she said they were in awe of the Japanese preparedness to respond to disaster.

“While we were out in the streets, moments after the impact, we were immediately given woolen blankets and instructed to carry head
covers,” she added.

“Japan is very ready with their very quick disaster response teams,” she said.

Villamayor noted that the teams were “very organized in every area and the people have clear information of designated places where to
proceed for safety.”

There was no advice from the Japan Foundation for them to return to the Philippines but Villamayor said her family in Bukidnon has
canceled a planned summer vacation to visit her.

“We surrender everything to the Lord. We always pray for our safety,” she said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

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