A Leeds man is among tens of thousands to flee Tokyo as the nuclear crisis mounts in earthquake-hit Japan.
Adam Pearson and wife Sayuri packed as many belongings as they could carry and left their home in a suburb of the capital.
The 39-year-old managed to take a bullet train – despite a six-magnitude aftershock striking – and are now staying in a hotel in Osaka.
An 8.9-magnitude earthquake off Japan’s east coast struck last Friday triggering a vast tsunami which has plunged the country into crisis. The official death toll last night was over 5,400 and more than 8,000 are missing.
Cooling systems failed on four reactors in the Fukushima nuclear power station leading to fears of a meltdown.
The authorities ordered 185,000 people out of a 12-mile area around the site, but increased radiation levels 150 miles away in Tokyo sparked panic.
Mr Pearson, who has lived in Japan for 10 years, told the YEP: “On Tuesday it was announced that radiation had reached central Tokyo, which is not far from where we live.
“We decided to come down south to Osaka, so we booked the train and a hotel that night and left early on Wednesday morning.
“Just after we booked, there was an earthquake on the bullet train line between Tokyo and Osaka, so we thought we wouldn’t be able to go, but luckily the trains were still running.
“We hastily packed up all the important documents and possessions we could carry, assuming we wouldn’t be able to go back.
“It’s still not clear whether we’ll be able to or not.”
Japanese news footage yesterday showed thousands of people, both foreigners and Japanese, heading south to get out of Tokyo.
The Narita airport was also rammed with passengers trying to fly out of the capital.
Mr Pearson, who runs translation firm PGE Language, said: “It seems all hotels here in Osaka are booked up for the next few days with refugees from the capital.
“We are heading down to Fukuoka, even further south from Tokyo, tomorrow, and we’ll stay there for two weeks until the situation becomes clear.
“We might come back to England if things get really bad, but we should be safe down south.
“I’m hoping it will be OK, but I don’t think the government would announce if there was a real danger until it was too late.
“My work is mobile and Sayuri was working from home this week anyway, so it didn’t make any sort of sense to stay once radiation in Tokyo was confirmed.
“If it had got significantly worse the next day, all the hotels/trains/flights would have been fully booked so we’d have been trapped there.”
Yesterday there was international concern that Japan has lost control over the nuclear crisis.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We advise against all non essential travel to Tokyo and north eastern Japan given the damage caused by the March 11 earthquake and resulting aftershocks and tsunami.
“Due to the evolving situation at the Fukushima nuclear facility and potential disruptions to the supply of goods, transport, communications, power and other infrastructure, British nationals currently in Tokyo and to the north of Tokyo should consider leaving the area.”
British nationals and friends and relatives of those in Japan can contact the Foreign Office on 0207 008 0000.