Registered SA citizens in Japan accounted for
Johannesburg - All South African citizens
registered with the embassy to be living in Japan have been accounted for, the
department of International Relations and Cooperation said on Saturday.
The update comes as Japan's east coast was
hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami on Friday morning leaving about 413
people dead in its wake.
The embassy reported that the citizens,
estimated to be between 200 and 500, were safe, department spokesperson Clayson
He said none of the citizens so far have
asked the embassy for assistance and added that consular services were in
contact with authorities in Japan to continue monitoring the situation.
People with relatives in Japan can contact
the consular on 012-351-1750/1/1000.
Foreign news agencies are reporting that over
1 000 people were left injured following the natural disaster.
Hundreds more bodies have been found along
the coast in Sendai, which is the biggest city near the epicentre of the
Meanwhile, more bodies were believed to be
buried in rubble and debris after buildings were flattened and vehicles swept
Some 784 people were also reported missing.
A South African living in Yokohama, Japan,
told Sapa on Friday that they felt tremors and aftershocks as the earthquake
and tsunami hit the east coast, about 300km away.
"The city's operations ground to a halt
and the population, heavily reliant on public transport, had been forced to
find other ways of getting home after Japan Rail announced it was closed,"
said Ulrich Klz, the secretary general of the South African Chamber of Commerce
in Japan (SACCJ).
The 52-year-old who is a former resident of
Stellenbosch and has been living in Japan for the past 23 years said people
were still nervous "and this is in a city that is not too close to Sendei
[the earthquake's epicentre]".
Klz said many people, including himself, had
walked home because the wait had been too long for overcrowded taxi-cabs.
"I walked home with my wife after
waiting two hours for a taxi... it's a distance of 10km, but it took us
two-and-a-half hours... all of that in a temperature of two degrees
Celsius," he said.
Sports stadiums, concert halls and event
halls had been opened up overnight to provide accommodation to stuck commuters
and hotels in Yokohama were fully booked, Klz said.
He said he had been trying to reach the
embassy people to find out more information, but had been unable to reach them
on their cellphones or office numbers.
"The South African ambassador to Japan,
Gert Grobler, a close friend of mine, is also the honorary chairperson for the
SACCJ," he said.
"I can't get hold of him... I don't
think he's under the rubble though... the networks have been blocked here...
even his daughter phoned me to ask how he was," Klz said.
He had been busy teaching at his language
academy when the quake hit. "Everything started falling down. The ground
shook so violently that we all fell down," Klz said.
"The building next to ours is full of
cracks... we had pieces of building falling done, but nobody was injured. Some
older buildings collapsed though," Klz said.