The 9.0 mega thrust earthquake which hit Japan on March 11 resulted in a tsunami with 100000 kilolitre waves travelling up to 10km inland. The most affected area has been Sendai and the surrounding north-eastern islands along the Pacific coastline.

The tsunami has caused severe damage such as flooding, landslides, nuclear incidents, building and infrastructural damage. The reported death toll has topped 11 000 and rescue officials (locally and internationally) have continued to work around the clock in rescue operations.

Seiya Tobishima, a Wits 2nd year Bcom economics exchange student from Soka University in Tokyo, said he was shocked because Japan had never experienced an earthquake this massive. His hometown of Sapporo is further north of Sendai and was hardly affected by the destruction.

He said: “I am fortunate that my family is safe in Sapporo, but I feel very sorry for people in Sendai and the best I can do is to encourage them through prayer.

“I have joined The Eastern Japan Earthquake Project which sends messages of condolences and encouragement to people from the affected areas, but I feel that I could do more to help if I was back at home”

According to Thabisa Hlwatika, an English assistant teacher at a junior high school in Izumi, close to Sendai city, school pupils were told to only return to school next week Tuesday.

She said: “The Japanese people in my area have been very calm and are trying to get things back to normal.  I have not seen collapsed buildings in Izumi because the area is further inland; however there is damage such as cracked walls, fallen roof tiles and broken windows.

“I did not have electricity and could not make international calls to home until two days after the earthquake. I received food and water from the refuge shelters brought from neighbouring towns by trucks.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday News 24 reported that the South African government was moving 10 exchange students from Sendai to Tokyo as a safety precaution because of the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant.