News from son lost in quake zone

AS the families of the 180 Aussies still unaccounted for in Japan awaited word of their fate yesterday, one Yamba man was counting his lucky stars.

John Warden is the father of Rick Warden who, along with his wife, Cassy, were in the Sendai CBD when Friday afternoon’s earthquake took place.

But it was a nerve-wracking 72 hours before John was able to speak to his son on Monday afternoon and hear the words every parent needs – “I’m okay”.

John said he spoke to his son about the terrifying quake itself and the following tsunami, which luckily for Rick never made it to the Sendai CBD.

“There were several earthquakes the night before and one large one, it was like a seven,” John said.

“They were in Sendai getting Japanese lessons, in a building on the ground floor ... he said the building shook for a whole minute, it was so violent you couldn’t stand up and then it stopped. They were holding onto a column but they let go and then it started again for another two minutes.”

John said the ensuing tsunami did not hit Sendai city itself which was about 18km from the sea and 50km above sea level.

He said his son’s host family was based in Rifu, about 20km north east of Sendai but only 4km from the sea.

Mr Warden expressed frustration at the Department of Foreign Affairs’ emergency system, or lack thereof.

“I rang six times over the weekend and had to repeat the story six times rather than having some kind of reference system.”

“I spoke to Janelle Saffin yesterday and within two hours I was speaking to my son.”

UPDATE: Jockey remains in ICU at Coffs Harbour

UPDATE: Jockey remains in ICU at Coffs Harbour

Injured jockey Kirk Matheson rushed into surgery.

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