'All of a sudden - bam - it just hit'
CNN iReporter Aria Adam Varasteh says he and other travelers are camping out at Tokyo's Narita International Airport.
March 11th, 2011
08:56 PM ET

'All of a sudden - bam - it just hit'

Millions of people have been affected after a devastating earthquake hit Japan on Friday. An estimated hundreds have been killed, and many more are planning for aftershocks. Here are some personal stories from around the world:

iReporter Christopher Lacey was standing on his back deck, talking on the phone about the events in Japan when he noticed a disturbance in the waters of Richardson Bay, which is part of the San Francisco Bay.

"The waves did not appear to be more than about 3 feet high from my perspective."

iReporter Kristi Marie Gott narrates what happened when she heard the tsunami warning, in Florence, Oregon early this morning. "I wanted to let people see what the tsunami surges looked like on the Oregon Coast near Heceta Head Lighthouse. To a local person it was amazing to see the ocean surge back as the water withdrew, leaving the shallows and rocks visible, then surge forward again covering them all the way to the cliffs. I go there all the time so it was clear this was very different from the usual waves or tides."

iReporter Travis Richardson, of Fremont, California, was evacuated from his hotel in Tokyo and recorded some images of a massive fire nearby.

"We were forced to leave the hotel and stand outside, I could see the big billowing dark smoke coming from I'm guessing an oil rig possible approximately 4 to 5 miles away and pulled out my iPhone to take photos and video. Thought I should document this, everyone was standing outside. When the aftershocks happened they told us to move further away from the hotel and stand in the grassy area between the buildings."

Read more witness accounts on CNN.com

iReporter Deanne Goodman shot this video of tsunami-watchers this morning in her hometown of Carlsbad, CA. Despite the tsunami advisory, spectators were lined up to catch a glimpse of the crests, and some even let their children play down on the beach.

"Everyone and anyone was out there with their family and a cup of coffee, like a spectator sport."

"Thank god it didn’t impact us in San Diego, but it’s interesting to see people's reactions, like people wanted something bad to happen. I even saw parents letting their kids play out on the beach. You don’t know how a tsunami’s gonna act."

iReporter Ryan K. McGinnis was up early surveying the damage from the tsunami in Wailuku, Hawaii. "The scene was crazy and a bit uncertain because of the fact that we didn't exactly know how large of an impact we would take here on Maui, if any at all," he said.

"It was one crazy ride, but thanks to organizations such as NOAA and the Hawaii Radio Group, precautions we're taken early and seriously."

iReporter Andy Clark lives in Tokyo and was trying to get to San Francisco when the earthquake hit, closing the airport and cancelling all flights.

"I was in the Delta Airlines lounge just about to head to the gate," Clark said. "I stood by a big round pillar and watched the world sway, seriously expected the roof to collapse on us." After the shaking stopped, everyone was evacuated from the terminal to the tarmac for about 90 minutes as the building was surveyed for stability before being allowed back inside the airport.

iReporter Aria Adam Varasteh, 20, of Washington arrived in Japan on Friday afternoon and "felt shaking," he said.  "Everyone looked around nervously, as I held onto the nearest pillar" in Tokyo's Narita International Airport.

Varasteh said people started circulating rumors of an impending tsunami. "I was able to access data on my smartphone and found out that two tsunamis had already hit Japan's coast," he said. The airport has distributed food, water and sleeping bags, he said.

– In Malibu, California, iReporter Julie Ellerton interviewed her neighbor Maryla Lacheccka, who is from Poland. She's been  “waiting and watching and has been all night," Ellerton said. "She prepared early. It is expected to be possible high waves throughout the day."

Robert Michael Poole in Kamaishi, Japan, told CNN via Skype that earthquakes are quite common in the country, "but not (ones) that last this long and not with this rolling effect."

"People ran out into the streets, including myself, a reaction I've never had before," he said. "And at this time, there's a great unease with these constant aftershocks going on. There are many people still out in the streets."

Stars and Stripes Web editor T.D. Flack said Misawa Air Base personnel on Japan's Pacific Coast fled to high ground during the quake.:

“Water poured out the front door of the pool building - it was bizarre. The quake was so strong that water rushed out of the pool, and out of the front door and down the steps, into the street," he told Stars and Stripes.

“As of 8 p.m., the base remained almost completely black, save for some buildings with generator back-up," he was quoted as saying. "All we can assume is people are hunkering down and bundling up because there’s no heat. It’s brutal."

Pamela Milos said she made it to Tokyo's Shinjuku Station, which has been reopened. “It is a sea of people trying to get into the station and out of Tokyo,” she said.

Milos said her building was shaking and cracking during the quake, but things have begun to cool down.  “Everyone’s calm and the police are keeping order. The underground lines are still closed and may reopen tomorrow,” she said.

Matt Alt, a Tokyo resident, reporting on CNNGo, a travel and lifestyle website from CNN in Asia:

"Parts of both downtown and in the suburbs are without power. Aftershocks, smaller but still unsettling, continue to rock the area from time to time. As darkness falls over the city, only one thing is for sure. It's going to be a long night."

Alt added, "My wife was the calm one. She told us to get down and put your back on something, and leave the windows and doors open in case a building shifts so you don't get trapped."

He said. "It was absolutely unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. It was a beautiful day, it was sunny outside. I had just come home from a little errand to the grocery store, and all of a sudden bam it just hit."

– Petty Officer 3rd Class John Williams was with sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington off Japan. He told Stars and Stripes that he felt the quake underneath the ship.

“The ship started shaking and I didn’t know what was going on,” said Williams, who's from Memphis, Tennessee. “That was my first earthquake, so I didn’t really know what it was supposed to feel like. … (A)fter a while, I knew it must have been big.”

– Richard Lloyd Parry said he looked through a window and saw buildings shaking from side to side. "Central Tokyo is fine from what we see. People are calm ... and not going inside buildings," Parry said.

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. DLR

    Events like this one are just another reason why everyone should read "Hell is an Awfully Big City"

    March 12, 2011 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. S - 2100 - S

    @sheep , when Jesus the reighning king in heaven comes to vindicate JEHOVAHS sovereinty in the Great Battle of Armeggedon ..... U will say the same thing – "all of the sudden BAM !! It just hit"........ U all are a bunch of DUNDER HEADS !!!! So just go on and keep following your political leaders as they fatten u all up ... And then lead u with them off to the slaughter ........ Wake up dunder heads!! cause the messiah is coming and its not gonna b pretty when he returns !!........

    March 12, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. ed bailey

    Jamie, can't go there because I am already there. The sheep have allowed the loss of democracy. Ill speak my thoughts now let me do my own type of prayer for the INNOCENT victims!

    March 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ed bailey

    The fact that the most prepared country in the world was devastated and the death toll will sadly be very high is a wake up call. The comment I made I will stand behind because ;amie you said it yourself.THERE ARE VERY FEW EARTHQUAKE SAFE BUILDINGS HERE! I agree but I hate the republican cult members that control this because they pass laws that: keep their crappy government secret behind closed doord, they will spend taxpayer money on ANYTHING they can to lie to the world about Utard(utah), the used the attorney generals office to investigate college football because they FELT slighted. The number of criminal acts that money Could have help solve isn't funny,they are. Biased and greedy and despite what people think they do not care about the children, if they did they wouldn't have crappy schools, o yeh that AREN'T (except a few in rich neighborhoods) Earthquake proof. Yeh bragg about atk that polluted the ground and the company AND the government doesn't give a crap!!!!!!! Utah Will get its lesson and nature will be the cause. I'm jealousn, I hate them enough I wish I had that kinda leverage!

    March 12, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Chillaxin

    @bailey. my kid was in a rich kid's school up on the east bench, only my kid's not rich, and the administration won't give you the time of day. it's all about $$. The more $ you have, the higher up in the Cult you go, & the more powerful u become. I agree with you.

    March 13, 2011 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. Emiko S.

    c

    March 13, 2011 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. maizy

    wow! i cant believe how mean people are to one another. we have bit the hand that feeds us. now we expect her to just sustain the damage and continue on with how we treat her. she is mad and we are so stupid. to think we can steal everything from our ultimate provider and expect nothing to happen. america was paradise a little over 500 years ago. but with assimulation to what they called civilized has taken place. now we are dying from cancers that never existed till now. aboriginal americans didnt have these disease before all the immigrants came here. it was a fine tuned clock how things ran. but they killed a whole continent of people down to where they are the smallest population now. and still condemn them for not being able to be who they are. well guess what they say what comes around goes around. every super power has over looked what happened to these people. no one will acknowledge that it was the biggest genocide in world history. well i guess we should all just pray the end is near.

    March 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RUFFNUTT

    @FAKE NUTT..posting under me is lame...

    March 11, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
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