Japan earthquake: Norfolk man calls Tokyo 'frightening'

A Norfolk man who has lived in Japan for six years has described the situation in the country following the earthquake as "very frightening".

Duncan Walsh was in his Tokyo apartment when the strongest quake to hit Japan since records began struck.

"In Tokyo they've always talked about the big one that's coming," said the 29-year-old musician.

Mr Walsh and his brother Selwyn, who also lives in the capital, are both unhurt.

However, Selwyn is currently having to sleep overnight at his local school where he is a teacher.

"It started off very gently. We have earthquakes very often and we had a pretty bad one on Wednesday, which was obviously the build-up to this big earthquake," said Mr Walsh.

"I didn't really think much of it and then suddenly it got bigger and bigger and it lasted a really long time - I've never felt an earthquake of that magnitude or duration."

The disaster has ground Tokyo to a halt with trains cancelled and drama on the streets.

There were reports of about 20 people injured in the capital after the roof of a hall collapsed onto a graduation ceremony.

Residents and workers in the city rushed out of apartment buildings and office blocks and gathered in parks and open spaces as aftershocks continued to hit.

"It's always difficult to know what to do - I didn't know whether to stay inside the house," said Mr Walsh.

"I was a little bit worried about things falling down but at the same time if you rush out onto the street you're at risk of glass flying from windows."

Launch party

The Walsh brothers are best known in Norfolk for their involvement in the indie-rock group The Watanabes and are regularly played on new music radio show BBC Introducing in Norfolk.

They started the band when Duncan moved from Swanton Novers, near Melton Constable, to Japan in 2004.

Image caption Duncan Walsh (second from left) and brother Selwyn (centre) live in Tokyo

They were due to release their new album You're Dancing, I'm Absorbed on 12 March, before heading on a tour around the country, but all plans have been put on hold.

"We've got a big launch party tomorrow at Time Out magazine's café and bar which we were really looking forward to," said Mr Walsh.

"We've had a phone call from the manager and obviously they've got lots of equipment at the venue in terms of sound and the DJs and it might have been damaged.

"Fingers crossed it won't have, but I don't think people will be in the party mood."

It is the second major earthquake the band's bass player Ashley Davies, who is from Christchurch in New Zealand, has experienced in the past month.

It is feared hundreds of people have been killed by the 8.9-magnitude Japan earthquake, which struck about 400km (250 miles) north-east of Tokyo.

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