The objective of this study is to document the reaction of international students to the 11 March 2011 emergency in order to inform and improve disaster management strategies, both public and institutional. The study is based mainly on a questionnaire survey carried out in August 2011 and follow-up interviews with students and other stakeholders. It describes the background of Tohoku University’s School of Engineering and covers six different stages in the evolution of the emergency: (1) immediate response; (2) taking shelter in Sendai; (3) life in the city during the aftermath; (4) sheltering outside Sendai; (5) coming back; plus (6) an overview of the experience. Major findings include: the process of evacuation and safety confirmation was successful, yet the subsequent phases (2 and 3) went on mostly unmanaged; students relied mostly on secondary sources of information to make decisions, mainly family and friends of the same nationality, most of whom probably were not better informed than the students themselves. Based on the findings, suggestions for future disaster planning are advanced, as well as a discussion on the challenges of information provision during crisis.
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Gómez, O.A. Lessons from international students’ reaction to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake: The case of the school of engineering at Tohoku University. Int J Disaster Risk Sci 4, 137–149 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13753-013-0015-9