Local man caught in Japanese earthquake

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THE MOTHER of a Monifieth man caught up in Japan’s devastating earthquake has spoken of her relief after hearing he was safe.

Stewart Gale (34), a former pupil of Monifieth High School, has lived in Japan for eight years and is an English teacher at a university in Toyohashi, which is midway between Tokyo and Osaka in the south of the country.

It was mid-afternoon in Japan when the 9.0 magnitude quake struck and Stewart experienced the violent tremors that caused buildings to shake.

Luckily for him, the town of Toyohashi was not affected by the subsequent tsunami and is some way from the Fukushima nuclear plant that has since leaked radiation.

But his mum, Sheila Doig, who still lives in Monifieth and is a member of the Befriending Society, says she was still so happy to hear he wasn’t harmed.

She told the Guide & Gazette: “I received a ‘phone call from him around eight o’clock on Friday morning to say there had been quite a big earthquake but that he was safe.

“This was before I had seen the news and when I switched it on after I spoke to him, the enormity of the situation struck me.

“When I tried to ‘phone him back I couldn’t get through and that is what made me so relieved that I had spoken to him because there was a lot of concern about big aftershocks.”

Mrs Doig continued: “Ever since he has lived in Japan, he has experienced many tremors but people had warned him he had to be prepared for the ‘big one’ and that he should have a bag packed and survival kit ready at all times.

“He said people had become very nervous about a big earthquake and even though they expect events like this, it still came as an awful shock.”

In the days since the quake, Mrs Doig has been able to get back in touch with Stewart and he has told her how it has affected all parts of the country.

She explained: “He told me there is still a lot of concern in Japan and people are still quite alarmed by what has been happening.

“He has three weeks off work at the minute and he has taken the decision to go and visit friends in Thailand and Singapore while this is going on.

“He says there is still a lot of worry, especially over the nuclear problems and now there is the possibility of power cuts and shortages of food and other supplies.

“I’m quite relieved he is no longer in Japan because there is some possibility of a second earthquake. “

Mrs Doig concluded: “I have visited the country before too and this time of year is so beautiful as the blossom is on the trees so it is such a shame they are suffering with this.”