NZ teacher in Japan safe, parents told

By Elizabeth Binning, Amelia Wade

A New Zealand teacher missing in the wake of the Japan earthquake and tsunami has been found safe, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has confirmed

The Auckland family of 37-year-old Steven Brooking had not heard from him since the tsunami hit the coastal city Miyako where he had been teaching English.

He last made contact with his mother Barbara in an email on Friday morning, as he did most mornings.

Hours later the magnitude 9 earthquake stuck.

Yesterday they got a call to say he was safe.

That was confirmed by an MFAT spokeswoman this morning, who said there were no longer concerns for the missing man.

"It's the best thing we have heard for a long time," relieved father Gary Brooking told the Herald last night.

Steven has been teaching in Japan for almost 10 years on and off and was almost a year into his latest stint when the quake struck.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there were still serious concerns held for another New Zealander in Japan.

While she did not give any names, NewstalkZB host Sean Plunket yesterday posted a message on Twitter asking if anyone had information about a 23-year-old called Tim Johnson.

Mr Johnson was believed to be missing in Sendai, another coastal city which has suffered catastrophic damage from the 10m tsunami.

His mother, Deborah, made contact with her son on Saturday but she still fears for his life. She said the ministry had made contact with her son yesterday afternoon.

"He may have survived the earthquake and the tsunami, but you've got to be God to survive a nuclear meltdown. We're still terrified he may not make it home."

She said her son was at an evacuation centre in Sendai with a British friend, living on one rice wafer and a cup of watered-down soup a day.

Mr Johnson booked a flight out of Osaka on Friday but had no idea how he would get there after Sendai's airport was wiped out, Mrs Johnson said.

"I just told him, 'I don't care how you do it, you've got to get out of there'. The roads are washed out, and the airport's washed out so who knows how he's going to get to Osaka, but he's just got to get out ... He might be fine now, but he's still got two days before he's safe."

Meanwhile, former All Black Pita Alatini, his wife Megan and their family are stranded in their rugby clubhouse in Kamaishi, north of Sendai, along with other expats.

They were evacuated from their homes five days ago.

Megan wrote on Facebook: "Kamaishi almost completely wiped out, many deaths, incl friends. So so sad. We are out of power gas low food supplies ... but we are safe! Being housed in seawaves clubhouse with other rugby families. Hard times. I can't believe it! Like a bad dream!"

- NZ Herald

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