Sunday, March 20, 2011

An amazing rescue story from Japan

The tragic stories coming from Japan keep piling up and the death toll climbs every day as the Japanese try to dig themselves out of the rubble.   The humanitarian challenge of caring for a couple hundred thousand homeless is straining even the organized Japanese.

Amongst the despair and rubble there are amazing stories of bravery and determination emerging.

Here is one of them.
Hideaki Akaiwa escaped the earthquake and tsunami, but after being unable to find his wife, scrounged up some SCUBA gear and went back into the waters to find his wife! He succeeded and later pulled the same technique to find his mother.  A somewhat embellished but great read of the story goes something like this (from Badassoftheweek 03/18/11)
Regardless of how he came across this equipment (borrowing, stealing, buying, beating up a Yakuza SCUBA diving demolitions expert, etc.) Hideaki threw on his underwater survival gear, rushed into the goddamned tsunami, and dove beneath the rushing waves, determined to rescue his wife or die trying. I'm not exactly sure whether or not the dude even knew how to operate SCUBA equipment, but according to one version of his story he met his wife while he was surfing (which is awesome, by the way), so it doesn't seem like that much of a stretch to say that he already had a little experience SCUBA diving under a more controlled situation. Of course, even if this dude didn't know how to work the gear I'm certain that wouldn't have stopped him either – Hideaki wasn't going to let a pair of soul-crushing natural disasters deter him from doing awesome shit and saving his family. He dove down into the water, completely submerged in the freezing cold, pitch black rushing current on all sides, and started swimming through the underwater ruins of his former hometown.
Surrounded by incredible hazards on all sides, ranging from obscene currents capable of dislodging houses from their moorings, sharp twisted metal that could easily have punctured his oxygen line (at best) or impaled him (at worst), and with giant fucking cars careening through the water like toys, he pressed on. Past broken glass, past destroyed houses, past downed power lines arcing with electrical current, through undertow that could have dragged him out to sea never to be heard from again, he searched.
Hideaki maintained his composure and navigated his way through the submerged city, finally tracking down his old house. He quickly swam through to find his totally-freaked-out wife, alone and stranded on the upper level of their house, barely keeping her head above water. He grabbed her tight, and presumably sharing his rebreather with her, dragged her out of the wreckage to safety. She survived.

Read the whole article.

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