'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. Richard


    March 11, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Natalia

      for one i'm blond and2 don't be so ugly.and don't you ..know they are trying there best if you think you can do better than you go out and get the info

      March 11, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Philip

    I don't recall the entire west coast being placed under an tsunami warning. I hear tourists in Hawaii are moving to the upper-floors of the Hotels, and the surfers are at the beach in anticipation of tidal-waves. Odd how humans facing the same danger have such different reactions.

    March 11, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Agu

      @phillip: your comment is very interesting.

      March 11, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • NMGrrL

      You make a great point. My grandmother was fond of the saying that "one man's trash is another man's treasure" - I suppose it applies here in an odd way here. Given waves of 3-4 feet (or 6-8 feet from the bottom of the trough to the top of the crest), this would make for some nice surfing, as long as nothing BIGGER happened to come along! I think the REAL point of the warnings is to avoid a repeat of the Indian Ocean disaster of 2005/6 where a quarter of a million people died for lack of a warning.

      March 11, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Philip

    Well, the tidal waves have hit Hawaii according to NPR. They are only 3 ft. high though. Good for the boogie boarders.

    March 11, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. Kara

    Someone tell me if south Korea will have larger threatening tsunamis please! I see nothing about Korea anywhere. Help!

    March 11, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. Rho

    Korea is relatively safe from the Tsunami.

    March 11, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |

    i knew a big one was comming.. but when is the 9.0+ one comming?

    March 11, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazz

      Not sure where it was but there was a 9.1 in 2004 , maybe google it

      March 11, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ed bailey

    Salt lake city (which deserves the name SIN city more than Vegas) needs the big one on the Wasatch fault to bring the predominent culture to its knees. Cult temple in ruins is a beautiful thought to many.

    March 11, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jamie

      That is beyond messed up! There are a lot of people here and there are very few earth quake safe buildings. Not to mention the airport base, colleges, and ATK. It wouldn't just effect mormons.
      Go to hell.

      March 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • HH

      What happens to your tax base when that happens....your tax base goes away, so you have to make up the difference....If you want to pay more just move to WI or AZ, they need it.

      March 12, 2011 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jill

    To all of you that are posting nasty things, please stop. Don't you understand what is going on. I believe that CNN is doing their best with the information that they are being given. Also, unless you are perfect, who are you to judge anyone's job. We should be looking at the bigger picture here. There is so much devastation, that most of you who are criticizing everyone, cannot even comprehend. Maybe instead of being so mean, you could look into what you might be able to do to help, instead of running your mouths. I don't believe I am seeing you on the news.

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

      i agree with you about that . it's really sad people are dying and all they seem to care about is the details.i think thats crazy .

      March 11, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robin baby

      Jill u r so rite if people can;t help with a kind word they ought not say any thing, becus they never no when there time is comin it dnt have to be a tsunamis it could be ur health they can replace things its harder on u if your health go's think about that and say a prayer for those people

      March 11, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Natalia

    say your prares for all whom the earth-quake hit but i know its affected me 🙁 preay :[]

    March 11, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. S.Ruffenach

    @Jamie: did you mean "go to the first level of heaven?" just askin cuz I thought LDS don't believe in he11 per se, but three levels of heaven, the lowest of which is supposedly for all of us that aren't LDS or not good enough, etc.

    March 11, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Barney Rubble

    Thats my boy... .

    March 11, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Chillaxin

    Hey YOU! yeah, I can't stand you so why don't you just go to h***....I mean, go to the 3rd level of heaven you bad bad person...you!

    March 11, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. acei

    Save Hello Kitty!

    March 12, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. Emiko S.


    March 12, 2011 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  15. Emiko S.

    The Goverment have released the situation on Fukushima nuclear intution's accident on 2 hr ago.
    But the content is changed a few time...e.x. the cause was reported as of the quake happend at 3pm, but thegoverment
    denied that the factor is in the reactor itself, in addition, except the 20km area, they said that we do not have nuclear-caused damage, but the figure media indicate was different.....

    Maybe the reaction of the other country wil be the correct, unfortunetely.

    March 12, 2011 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
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