Mar 17 – The great escape

Posted by Madbot on Mar 17, 2011 in 2011 Japan Earthquake Tsunami Nuclear Diary, Japan |

Catch up blog 15:

Morning – business as usual. Off I go to work on the bicycle. What an enjoyable ride.

Mid-morning – Colleague goes off to immigration center to get Japanese re-entry pass. Apparently the great gaijin exodus of 2011 is underway. Many foreigners are fleeing Tokyo and the airport and immigration office are flooded with people trying to leave – with or without their re-entry pass. Colleague goes to get his – reports back that the queue is not just out the floor in the immigration building, but out of the BUILDING. In fact, the queue so long that it’s gone to blocks away from the immigration office building. Don’t expect him back for the rest of the day.

More family make contacts. You MUST leave Tokyo. Ignore what the news say, get out or we come to get you.

An alternative suggestion comes through from a friend. Go to Osaka. It’s a long weekend, take Friday off work and stay at Osaka for the long weekend. With some luck, the nuclear situation may just settle down. Wife starts to check seats on the Shinkansen to Osaka. There are still seats left – but no hotel available in Osaka. Apparently everything is booked out in Osaka – and apparently we are not the first people to think of that idea.

Lunch – news come through. Russia has evacuated their embassy staff along with the ambassador.

Another colleague drives his wife and kids to Narita airport so they’re out of harm’s way. Reports back that there is a 1.5 hour traffic jam to Narita. Note to self – avoid Narita. Hanedai or Shinkansen are the only viable choices.

Wife receive words that her colleagues are also leaving town.

Mid Afternoon – words come through that Australian foreign minister via BBC – why can’t the Australian press do this? Kevin Rudd, asks all Australians to evacuate Tokyo. However, the Australian embassy in Tokyo does NOT say that. The embassy notice is still to remain on high alert. Which report is right, and which one do we listen to?

Wife sends words that TV is now reporting the nuclear situation is getting worse. They can no longer drop water in via helicopters to cool the reactors. Things look “grim”.

Decided with wife that it’s time to get us out of Tokyo and head down to Osaka. Told the bosses and they’re ok with it and understand the situation. Told the staff and advised that office can shut or open depending on the individual’s feelings. If you have family and want to stay with them, stay. We will close the office. If you’re single and want to come in and be with other staff plus the food, the office will open for you.

Wife then rings up with the alarming news that electricity supply in Tokyo is running dangerously low and demand is about to exceed supply. Emergency power shutdown through out Tokyo may start from 5pm, in less than 10 minutes! Send staff home to catch the train before the blackout starts (train lines have their own power generator) and told engineering staff that I will be reachable on cellphone – if any servers get powered down due to the UPS running out of power. Rushes out, jumps on the bike and cycles like mad towards home.

Got home and quickly got changed. Grabbed the backpacks and headed out the door towards the train station. No signs of power blackout – WTF? Anyway, got to the station and managed to get Shinkansen tickets to Osaka. Can’t sit together – but close enough.

So off we go on the “Shink”. While on the train, we hear there were some power blackout in Tokyo but none in the business districts. The later trains were powered down a notch traveling at a slower speed to conserve power on the line. Sounds like Tepco just wanted to scare people in order to drop their power usage?? Wife reports that her colleague helped out and got us a room for one night only at – the Ritz Carlton. Wow. It’s going to cost an arm but it will be better than the streets of Osaka.

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