Boaz Arad in Japan
In pieces
Photo: AP
Minimarkets slowly reopen
Photo: Reuters
Rescue teams in Iwate
Photo: Reuters

Israeli diplomats' families in Japan head home

Sendai, Iwate residents battle another tsunami scare, fear radioactive powder as cars, bodies float in muddy streets. Iwate official: Running out of water, food, body bags. Israeli diplomats' families return

SENDAI - The families of diplomats serving in Tokyo decided to return to Israel following the massive quake in Japan. A Foreign Ministry official told Ynet the decision is not related to fears of a nuclear fuel meltdown in Japan.


"Tokyo is in chaos, suffering from secondary quakes," he mentioned. "Therefore, we offered the families the option to return to Israel." The Foreign Ministry stressed that the embassy in Tokyo continues to operate as usual.


Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth's reporter in Japan walked along the streets of Sendai, which was hit hard by last Friday's earthquake and tsunami. Hundreds of cars slowly make their way in silence through never ending traffic jams, trying to enter the few gas stations that are still in operation.


Meanwhile, long lines of people plod along a number of minimarkets which reopened their doors on Monday – the first time since the quake hit on Friday.


Most of the businesses in the city are still closed. The power and water supply is disrupted and aftershocks shake the buildings every few hours. Hundreds stuck in Sendai face two possible threats: Another tsunami, which might destroy anything left standing from the previous one, and radioactive material blowing all the way from damaged nuclear power plants in Fukushima.


The city center of Sendai was left completely unharmed, without even so much as a crack in the building walls. The strict Japanese construction standards played their part. However as we approach the beach, the picture changes. The destruction is immense. Anything that survived the quake was quickly destroyed by the huge tidal wave that followed.


One giant swamp

Where residential neighborhoods once stood, now we can only see a big swamp filled with muddy water, mud, concrete and wood. Thousands of crushed cars float in the slushy waters, including upside-down ships and aircrafts. Some homes remain untouched, not sure how.


Shocked residents who were lucky enough to flee Naturi, a southern suburb of the city, now stand on bridges overlooking the nearby rice fields they once called their home, still refusing to digest what had happened. The tsunami swept away pieces of houses and lives, leaving behind a huge chaotic clutter.


Three days have past since the quake hit Japan, and the first geometric tools have just arrived to begin to try and put things in order. Who knows what horrors they will find once the cranes begin to hoist out the heaps of waste in the area.

Ships and cars shattered (Photo: Boaz Arad)


Cars are buried so deep in the mud it is hard to tell whether or not there are bodies inside. In other cars, empty cars, everything seems as it did before the wave hit. A purse in one car, a CD visor on the floor of another. No one touches them. There is no pillaging here.


Body bags running short

The damage is overwhelming. Rehabilitating the city will most likely take a few long years. On Tuesday, they say, many parts of the city will be reconnected to the power lines. It is a meek start. A very long road still awaits the residents of Sendai, who for now seem to be accepting their fate with unbelievable serenity and submission.


However, in the Iwate prefecture the residents are complaining. They are surviving on little food and water. "Things are simply not reaching us," said Hajime Sato, a government official in Iwate, one of the hardest hit prefectures.


Sato said only 10% of the necessary food and other supplies have been delivered so far. Body bags and coffins were in such short supply that the government may turn to foreign funeral homes for help, he said.


"We have requested funeral homes across the nation to send us many body bags and coffins. But we simply don't have enough," he said. "We just did not expect such a thing to happen. It's just overwhelming."


The pulverized coast has been hit by hundreds of aftershocks since Friday, the latest one a 6.2 magnitude quake that was followed by a new tsunami scare Monday.


People in the port town of Soma had rushed to higher ground after a tsunami warning Monday - a warning that turned out to be a false alarm - and then felt the earth shake from the explosion at the Fukushima reactor 25 miles away.


Authorities there ordered everyone to go indoors for fear of possible radiation contamination.


"It's like a horror movie," said 49-year-old Kyoko Nambu as she stood on a hillside overlooking her ruined hometown. "Our house is gone, and now they are telling us to stay indoors."


"I never thought we'd be in such a situation. I had a good life before the disaster. Now we have nothing: No gas, no power and no water," said a construction worker from Soma.


Ronen Medzini contributed to the report



פרסום ראשון: 03.14.11, 22:37
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