Malaysians flew home from quake-hit Japan

By Zurhin Azam Ahmad

SEPANG: A group of Malaysian tourists in Tokyo, Japan, were shopping when the massive earthquake struck.

Tourist guide Paul Lim said both he and his clients were unaware of the magnitude of the earthquake and tsunami, due to the distance between Tokyo and the scene of the tragedy along the coastal areas.

"We were in Hamamatsu prefecture and everything was normal there though we were told of the earthquake.

"My clients also went shopping as usual and it was only when we saw footage of the destruction that we realised it was a very strong earthquake," he said.

Hamamatsu is located about 600km south of Sendai. Also among those arriving at the KL International Airport from Japan yesterday were Bernama editor-in-chief Datuk Yong Soo Heong and 13 engineering students and a lecturer from the Skudai campus of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

Yong said he was glad to return home and expressed amazement at the level of discipline shown by the Japanese in the face of the disaster.

"The people in Tokyo were very disciplined. They queued up for buses and taxis," he said.

Mara-sponsored student Muha­mad Izhar Ishak who is studying in Tokai University, some 700km from Sendai said, he didn't panic when the earthquake sirens went off.

"I have experienced earthquakes many times and I thought this would be a normal tremor.

"But when I felt the earth trembling and saw people moving to open spaces, I immediately sensed it was not just another earthquake," he told newsmen.

Muhamad Izhar was among the first group of Malaysians to fly out of Japan since the disaster struck.

They arrived at 4.15pm on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH71 from Narita Airport in Tokyo.

The 23-year-old mechanical engineering student said that besides the disrupted telephone services and cracks on buildings in the area, including the apartment where he was living, there was no other major damage.