OSAKA, Japan – Asian studies major Kelsey Hoskins is one of a handful of students from Washington State University currently studying in Japan. She is in Osaka, where few residents even felt the effects of the earthquake. In her most recent message to her friends at WSU, she describes the prevailing fear among citizens of radiation and another major earthquake, as well as a growing frustration in the inability to help more.
March 15, 2011
I don’t know much more at the moment, but many of my friends are leaving because they are afraid of radiation poisoning. I can’t understand the news and all of the sites in English say different things about the nuclear plants, so I have no idea what is going on, only that it seems pretty bad. I am watching something on the news about it now, and they are evacuating people in a 20km radius and people within a 30km radius have been told to stay inside. Iodine pills have been passed out to try to counteract any radiation poisoning that has already been contracted. I’m not sure how true this is, but I have heard certain (nuclear) plants are under control, but one of the plants has a possibility of melting down or having a partial melt down.
I know there are still many people missing and Tokyo doesn’t have power. They are using rolling blackouts (not in the area I am in, because the west side of Japan and the east side use different Hz of power, I believe 60 vs. 50) to try to get some power back.
Since many trains aren’t working, there are some people who have to walk four hours to work. The CIE has told us not to travel to the effected areas and that we should not try to help, as we would be more of a hindrance. The best thing we can do is stay out of the way and try to raise money to send to them.
I have heard there is a good chance of another earthquake, up to a 7.0 or 7.5M, within a week of the initial earthquake. (The earthquake has also been re-evaluated to a 9.0M.) I am not sure how true this is, but I do know there have been many smaller earthquakes or aftershocks since the initial quake. Food, clean water and gasoline supplies are running low and the survivors without power don’t have enough blankets or heaters to keep themselves warm.
In an earlier message she writes of how little the effects of the quake could be felt in Osaka.
March 12, 2011
There’s not much to report from Osaka. I had just got out of class on Friday, around 2:40p.m., and went downstairs in the CIE (Center for International Education) Building and was in the lounge talking with my friends. Suddenly, I felt very dizzy and thought I just needed to get something to eat. I went across the street with a friend to get some lunch. We came back and were eating, and my Japanese friend asked if we had felt the earthquake. I realized that I had and for some reason it had made me extremely dizzy.
No one realized how bad it was until a few hours later when we all went home and watched the news. I live with my host family, and my host mother had not even felt the quake. Most of the buildings in Japan (especially the newer ones) are extremely earthquake resistant. We watched the horrifying story take place on the news and began contacting friends and family to see if they were all right and to assure them that we weren’t in danger.
I’m not close to the coast at all, nor am I near the nuclear reactors, so we didn’t have to evacuate. We have been watching the news for the past few days and it’s absolutely horrible what has happened. The tsunami absolutely wiped out everything it hit, and there were fires everywhere.
There are still search and rescue teams out looking for people. I went to Kyoto yesterday, and the only thing I noticed out of the ordinary was the increase in people carrying newspapers. There are groups at school trying to organize some sort of help/relief effort, and I’m sure the teachers will have something to say when we go back to school Monday.
I will keep you updated if I know anything more. I don’t have any pictures of our area because nothing happened here other than a slight aftershock from the initial earthquake.
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In the days ahead, look for additional reports from Kelsey Hoskins, one of about 600 students from WSU that study overseas as part of WSU’s Education Abroad Program. Students can spend as little as a week, or up to a full calendar year developing international competencies that many employers in today’s world market seek.