Quake hell for family

Sean Barker, formerly of Fleetwood, was caught up in the earthquake disaster in Japan
Sean Barker, formerly of Fleetwood, was caught up in the earthquake disaster in Japan

A FLEETWOOD family had to wait anxiously for news after a teacher from the town was caught up in the horror of Japan’s earthquake.

Sean Barker, 45, has been working as an English teacher in the tsunami-hit country for the last 10 years.

Today his mum, Win, told how she was frantic with worry and unable to contact her son.

She only knew he was safe when her daughter received a Facebook message from one of Sean’s friends out in Japan.

Mrs Barker of Wingrove Road, Fleetwood said: “When I first heard what had happened I was frantic with worry.

Sean travels around Japan by train, between different schools, and I had no idea if he was safe.

“When I head that two trains had been de-railed and lost, it was a terrible time.

“I couldn’t phone him and I’m not on e-mail, so I was in the dark.”

But on Friday she heard the news she had been praying for; Sean was safe.

Mrs Barker, a grandmother, said: “My daughter Julie, who lives in Kent, received the Facebook message from one of Sean’s close friends to say he was safe.

“She told Julie that he had been unable to get home because all the trains had been grounded.”

Sean, who lives in the central coastal area of Chigasaki-shi and was working in the nearby city of Yokohama when the disaster struck – about 150 miles from the worst of the catastrophe, managed to phone his worried mother on Sunday and told her of his terror as the earthquake struck.

She said: “Sean sounded shaky and was still in shock. He had been teaching children at one of the schools in Yokohama when the whole place started to shake.

“The children knew what to do and dived under the table, but it wouldn’t stop.

“They were worried and some of them started to cry.

“When the quake stopped they all went outside and stood in a circle hugging each other.

“Sean said it was the worst day of his life.”

Ex-Cardinal Allen pupil Sean, who is divorced, once worked at Smiths Crisps in Fleetwood and later studied at Lancaster University, acquiring a teaching qualification.

He has two sisters; Sue, 43, who lives in Kent, and Louise, 30, who lives in Fleetwood.

Japan has been left struggling to cope with the single worst disaster to hit the nation since the Second World War.

Mrs Barker said: “Sean loves it out there and has made his life in Japan.

“We are just so happy he is safe.”