PEOPLE in Oxford are rallying round to support survivors of the earthquake in Japan.

Students, tour operators and Japanese people living in Oxford are behind a string of events to raise cash.

Last Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami killed more 5,000 people in north-east Japan. Around 10,000 people are still missing.

Travel company Into Japan Specialist Tours, in Kidlington, is holding a fundraising event at Oxford Town Hall on Saturday, March 27, with activities to celebrate Japanese culture.

Owner David Lee lived near Kobe, Japan, when a huge earthquake struck in 1995 killing more than 6,000.

He said: “I still think the scale of it this time has not quite come through fully.

“Kobe was different, but I saw that the long-term effect for humans is really tough.”

Many of his customers have cancelled trips.

He said: “It is going to have a big impact on us. But with what is going on in Japan, we are lucky just to be able to live a normal life.”

He said about 1,000 Japanese people lived in Oxfordshire and many more knew people in Japan.

He added: “People feel it is not that far away.”

About 20 students from the Japanese Society at Brookes collected £2,000 after setting up a stall at the Gipsy Lane site on Tuesday. They are holding another collection today and one in the city centre tomorrow.

Japanese studies student Catherine Mahoney, 23, said: “We got hundreds of people donating – it was quite amazing. Watching the news is pretty horrific and I think everybody will respond to it.

“Within our university there are a lot of Japanese students and those studying Japanese. So we feel quite connected to Japan.”

President of the Japanese Society Otoha Hayashi, 23, added: “It is really great that everybody cares about our country.”

Oxford-born British Olympian Mara Yamauchi, who lived in Japan for many years, is pledging to raise cash through sponsored runs. She said: “The scale of devastation in Japan caused by the earthquake is incomprehensible. But we can support Japan in rebuilding.”

And Oxfordshire Golf Club has promised to let charities and organisations use its course near Thame to hold charity golf days – providing the money goes to Red Cross Japanese Tsunami Appeal.

* The boss at Cowley-based Mini’s parent company BMW yesterday admitted supplies of a key component of the car could run out in a week because of the Japanese disaster.

* The Government last night said it was chartering planes to fly from Tokyo to Hong Kong to help Britons who want to leave Japan.