Indonesian Man Escapes Aceh and Japan Tsunamis

An Indonesian man said on Thursday that he had escaped both the 2004 tsunami in Aceh and last week’s wave in Japan.

Doctoral student Zahrul Fuadi, 39, who is from the Indonesian province, was at a seminar at a university campus in Sendai when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck, triggering a tsunami that devastated Japan’s northeastern coast.

Seven years ago, the engineer had to flee from the wall of water that killed 168,000 people in his own country.

“I have survived two monumental disasters. I’m very grateful, not many people have experienced two big disasters and survived,” Fuadi said.

His house in Simpang Mesra village, Banda Aceh, was destroyed in the 2004 disaster, which followed a 9.3-magnitude quake.

Then, he said, “we were at my house when the quake happened. Me, my wife and my two children escaped from the tsunami by riding a motorcycle. We went very far from my house because we were so afraid.

“Actually I’m more scared of tsunamis than earthquakes. I was running away from the Aceh tsunami back then and thinking that was the end of the world,” he said.

Fuadi is a faculty member at Syah Kuala University in Banda Aceh, and his family moved to Sendai after he received a scholarship to complete his doctorate at Tohoku University in the town.

He has been living in Japan for the past six years, but he and his family were spared by last week’s tsunami because the campus is 20 kilometres from the coast.

Fuadi returned to Indonesia on Tuesday and has flown back to Aceh.

“I plan to return to Sendai as I have to finish some work. But now it’s the nuclear radiation that I’m afraid of,” he said.

Indonesia was the nation hardest hit in the 2004 tsunami, with more than three-quarters of the 220,000 victims around the Indian Ocean.

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