14 Mar 2011

New Zealander flees town near nuclear plant

10:17 am on 14 March 2011

A New Zealander who is among some 200,000 people evacuated from the area around a damaged nuclear power plant in Japan says she is safe for now, but is preparing in case she has to move again.

Japan is battling a nuclear power plant crisis in the wake of Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami, as officials work to stop fuel rods in the damaged Fukushima power plant overheating.

Fane Walter, an assistant language teacher, was living about 10km from the plant, in the town of Tomiokawhich has been evacuated.

She says she spent the night at a friend's apartment following the quake, but they were told to leave the next morning.

They're now in the city of Aizu Wakamatsu, gathering supplies in case they have to move again.

New Zealander Josh Tweedie is in Koriyama, about an hour away from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

He says all the other foreigners he knows have left town, and he's unsure whether it's safe to stay.

24-year-old in tsunami-hit village

The mother of a New Zealand woman in Japan says she came very close to losing her daughter when the tsunami flattened half the buildings in the village where she was working.

Georgia Robinson, 24, has been an assistant English teacher in Noda Mura, which was a village of about 3000 people before Friday's earthquake.

Her mother Brenda Robinson, who lives in Nelson, says her daughter watched the tsunami sweep houses and cars past the second floor of the office building she was trapped in.

She says Georgia's village was cut off and the family had the longest wait of their lives before finally hearing she was safe early on Sunday morning.

Brenda Robinson says her daughter's boyfriend trekked from another village, by-passing a police roadblock, to find her and walk her out.

Anxious wait for Japanese in NZ

Many Japanese people living in New Zealand have had an anxious wait during the weekend for news of family members and friends back home.

Takako Jones says at first, she struggled to get in contact with her 70-year-old mother in Kamagaya city near Tokyo, but later found out she was safe and well.

Motoko Gillett says she hasn't been able to get through to a close friend who lives in Sendai, the city nearest to the epicentre of the quake.