Quake aftermath: 'You just have to survive'
Residents walk past a damaged shop in Sendai, Japan, on Saturday, a day after an 8.9-magnitude quake and tsunami struck.
March 12th, 2011
11:35 PM ET

Quake aftermath: 'You just have to survive'

Millions of people have been affected after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan on Friday. Hundreds have been killed, and many more are missing as aftershocks rock the country. Are you there? Send an iReport. Here are some personal stories from around the world:

- Matthew Williams, 23, lives in Shin-Urayasu, Japan but is originally from Newport Beach, California. Williams was at work when the earthquake hit and was stuck there for eight hours until it was okay to for him to walk home. He took these pictures of the aftermath.

"We've been provided some water rations but only about one to two liters and still not sure when we are to get more," he said. "The city has told us we are able to take a bucket to the local elementary school to obtain some water, but the wait is about three hours."

- Yoshi Ikeda, 34, works at the US Navy Base pool in Yokosuka, Japan. He took this video of water flowing out of the pools during the earthquake.

- iReporter Wade Reed was on the U.S. Navy base in Miura City when the buildings starting to shake. It took him more than six hours to locate his wife and son. He said if the tsunami had been as violent in Miura as it was in other parts of Japan, he wouldn't have made it to his family in time.

"I was very worried for my son because his school had just let out at 2:45 and he was heading home. I went to the local train station to only find out that all the trains had stopped and there was no service. I had to walk to get to my wife's work and that took me almost two hours to get to her," he says. "We finally made it home about 2.5 hours later and still had to find my son. He was safe at his school but we again with traffic it took us some time to get to him.

"The Japanese people had fear on their faces and know one knew what was next. But I am lucky because we did get a little bit of the tsunami but nothing like what they got up north. I was very scared but I had to remain calm and think about the situation."


The day's most popular stories
Search and rescue efforts continue Sunday in Japan.
March 12th, 2011
11:30 PM ET

The day's most popular stories

The five most popular stories on CNN.com in the past 24 hours, according to NewsPulse.

Japan struggles with nuclear reactors: A meltdown may have occurred at at least one nuclear power reactor in Japan, the country's chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, said Sunday

Quake moved Japan coast 8 feet: The powerful earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami Friday appears to have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters) and shifted the Earth on its axis.

Japan scrambles to save survivors, reactors: Japanese authorities are operating on the presumption that possible meltdowns are under way at two nuclear reactors, a government official said Sunday.

State of emergency in 4 California counties: One person was reported dead and numerous boats and harbors suffered damage in the United States after the tsunami triggered by the massive earthquake off Japan.

Japan quake live blog: An 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit northern Japan early Friday, triggering tsunamis that sent a wave filled with boats and houses toward land.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Japan • Most Popular
Bad weather hinders tsunami clean-up, damage assessment in U.S.
Wreckage of dashed boats and docks litters the harbor in Crescent City, California.
March 12th, 2011
11:06 PM ET

Bad weather hinders tsunami clean-up, damage assessment in U.S.

Rain and high winds hindered clean-up efforts in coastal communities along the West Coast of the United States and Hawaii after a tsunami triggered by Friday's earthquake destroyed harbors and swept out to sea at least three people and dozens of boats.

The National Weather Service on Saturday canceled tsunami advisories for the immediate coastal areas of central and Southern California, while warning residents of continued tidal surges in harbors across the region. But assessment of the damage was just beginning.

Local officials put damage estimates to harbor facilities in the millions in two seaside communities along the Oregon-California border hit hardest by the surge, which originated some 5,000 miles away.

Residents of Crescent City, California, and Brookings, Oregon, were spared the extent of devastation wrought in Japan, where the death toll continues to rise and a state of emergency has been declared at a power plant. A tsunami warning was declared in many American jurisdictions minutes after the earthquake hit, prompting evacuations and emergency measures, which effectively minimized damage.

In Crescent City, surges reached 8 feet Friday when the tsunami came ashore, dragging boats out to sea as some residents were evacuated to higher ground.


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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • California • Hawaii • Japan • U.S.
Japan quake live blog: 'We're in an emergency, please help us'
Smoke fills the air in the badly damaged town of Yamada, Japan, in Iwate prefecture one day after the earthquake and tsunami.
March 12th, 2011
10:30 PM ET

Japan quake live blog: 'We're in an emergency, please help us'

An 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit northern Japan early Friday, triggering tsunamis that sent a wave filled with boats and houses toward land. Are you in an affected area? Send an iReport. Read the full report on how the quake hit Japan and generated a Pacific-wide tsunami.

[10:30 p.m. ET, 12:30 p.m. Tokyo] The 15-member Chinese rescue team is bound for the quake-hit region in Japan. The team's main task was to search for survivors, Yin Guanghui, deputy director of the China Earthquake Administration, said. The members of the Chinese International Search and Rescue are bringing four tons of materials and equipments for search and rescue as well as power supply and telecommunication services, Yin said.

[10:20 p.m. ET, 12:20 p.m. Tokyo] The death toll has climbed to 763. There are 639 missing and 1419 injured, according to Japan's national police agency.

[9:54 p.m. ET, 11:54 a.m. Tokyo] A meltdown may have occurred at at least one nuclear power reactor in Japan, the country's chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, said Sunday.

He also said that authorities are concerned over the possibility of another meltdown at a second reactor.

"We do believe that there is a possibility that meltdown has occurred. It is inside the reactor. We can't see. However, we are assuming that a meltdown has occurred," he said of the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility. "And with reactor No. 3, we are also assuming that the possibility of a meltdown as we carry out measures."

Edano's comments confirm an earlier report from an official with Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, who said, "we see the possibility of a meltdown."

A meltdown is a catastrophic failure of the reactor core, with a potential for widespread radiation release. However, Toshihiro Bannai, director of the agency's international affairs office, expressed confidence that efforts to control the crisis would be successful.

[9:35 p.m. ET, 11:35 a.m. Tokyo] A woman trapped in a secure building in downtown Sendai made a tearful plea to the world for help.

"Somehow, we can hang in there, I hope. We don't have any electric, water, gas... but please, help the people who lost their homes and the people on top of the buildings asking for help," Yasue Schumaker told CNN.

"We need foreign countries' help," she said, choking back tears. "We're in an emergency, please help us."

At least 49 countries and the European Union have offered relief to Japan, and supplies and personnel are on the way.

Schumaker, a resident of Hawaii originally from Sendai, had been visiting her hometown to care for her ailing mother.

Schumaker said people were too afraid to leave the building and no one knew when to expect help. Outside, she said she saw people sleeping in cars, perhaps reluctant to leave the safety of their vehicles for the cold weather.

[9:10 p.m. ET, 11:10 a.m. Tokyo] The U.S. State Department will on send a consular support team into the Sendai area near the earthquake's epicenter on Sunday, while adding personnel to the U.S. Tokyo embassy in an effort to aid American citizens. Ten U.S. Naval ships are bound for Japan carrying humanitarian aid and emergency crews in effort to aid in disaster relief, Anthony Falvo, a U.S. Navy Public Affairs Officer, said.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, along with a guided-missile cruiser and destroyer ship, arrived off Japan's coast Sunday morning to support Japanese forces in disaster relief operations, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement.

[8:47 p.m. ET, 10:47 a.m. Tokyo] A state of emergency has been declared for three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Roughly 180,000 people who live within 10 to 20 kilometers of the Daiichi plant are being evacuated.

[7:40 p.m. ET, 9:40 a.m. Tokyo] Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday that another reactor of its Fukushima nuclear power plants had lost its cooling functions, Kyodo News reports. The utility supplier notified the government Sunday morning that the No. 3 reactor at the No. 1 Fukushima plant had lost the ability to cool the reactor core. The reactor is now in the process of releasing radioactive steam, top government spokesman Yukio Edano said, according to Kyodo News.

It was the sixth reactor overall at the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants to undergo cooling failure since the massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck Japan on Friday.

[6:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 a.m. Tokyo] 15 more people in the vicinity of Fukushima Daiichi's nuclear power plants have been exposed to radioactivity, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency has confirmed, according to Kyodo News.

[6:34 p.m. ET, 8:34 a.m. Tokyo] An aftershock was just felt in Sendai, CNN staff in Japan reports, the latest in a series of aftershocks to rock the quake zone since Friday's 8.9-magnitude earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami.

"People here in Japan are quite used to earthquakes," CNN's Anna Coren said. "The concern is more quakes, more aftershocks could cause more tsunamis. That's what people are worried about."

Since the initial earthquake, there have been 250 aftershocks above 5.0 and almost 50 above 6.0, CNN's Chad Meyers said.


Orderly disaster reaction in line with deep cultural roots
March 12th, 2011
07:16 PM ET

Orderly disaster reaction in line with deep cultural roots

The layer of human turmoil - looting and scuffles for food or services - that often comes in the wake of disaster seems noticeably absent in Japan.

‚ÄúLooting simply does not take place in Japan. I‚Äôm not even sure if there‚Äôs a word for it that is as clear in its implications as when we hear ‚Äėlooting,‚Äô" said Gregory Pflugfelder, director of the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University.

Japanese have ‚Äúa sense of being first and foremost responsible to the community,‚ÄĚ he said.

To Merry White, an anthropology professor at Boston University who studies Japanese culture , the real question is why looting and disorder exist in American society. She attributes it largely to social alienation and class gaps.

"There IS some alienation and indeed some class gaps in Japan too but violence, and taking what belongs to others, are simply not culturally approved or supported," White said in an e-mail.


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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Japan
March 12th, 2011
03:07 PM ET

U.S. contractor gets 15-year sentence in Cuba for crimes against the state

U.S. contractor Alan P. Gross was sentenced Saturday to 15 years in prison for crimes against the Cuban state, Cuba's state-run news agency reported.

Gross was arrested 14 months ago on accusations of distributing illegal satellite equipment to connect dissidents to the internet as part of efforts to undermine the government. The prosecution had asked for a 20-year sentence.

The United States says Gross was helping the small Jewish community connect to the internet and that he didn't break any laws.

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Filed under: Cuba
March 12th, 2011
02:42 PM ET

Al-Jazeera cameraman killed in ambush in Libya

Al-Jazeera cameraman Ali Hassan al Jaber has been killed in an ambush near Benghazi, Libya, the network reported Saturday.

An anchor reporting the news from the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera said the network "will not be silenced about this crime and will take it to the international community."

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More than half of tourist town residents unaccounted for
About 9,500 residents are unaccounted for in Minamisanriku, located in Miyagi Prefecture.
March 12th, 2011
11:59 AM ET

More than half of tourist town residents unaccounted for

A tiny tourist and fishing community on Japan's rugged Pacific coastline is missing more than half its residents following Friday's powerful earthquake, according to local government officials cited by Kyodo News Agency.

About 9,500 residents are unaccounted for in Minamisanriku, located in Miyagi Prefecture.  The village economy relies largely on tourism and commercial fishing, according to community websites.

Among its tourist attractions is a museum that boasts about 16,000 annual visitors and features dinosaur fossils and ancient traditional fishing gear. Chief industries in Minamisanriku include agriculture, forestry and fishing, the websites said.

Some of the more prominent fish hauled in from offshore include silver salmon, kelp, shark fin, tuna, abalone, oysters and scallops.

Click here to see the before and after images of the devastation in Soma and Minamisanriku, Japan.

One local website reports the local economy has been recently challenged by plummeting numbers of workers and competition from imported seafood. Farms in the region produce rice, vegetables and livestock, according to community websites.

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March 12th, 2011
07:54 AM ET

Expert: Typical nuke plants can take a 10,000-year quake

Many questions remained about Saturday’s explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan. In general, these kinds of facilities are among the most carefully designed and heavily scrutinized structures in the world, said a top civil engineer.

Ron Hamburger, who travels the world studying earthquake-damaged buildings and other structures, says a typical nuclear power plant is designed to withstand earthquakes of the magnitude that only occurs once every 10,000 years.

Friday’s quake was the most powerful to hit the island nation in recorded history, and the tsunami it unleashed traveled across the Pacific Ocean. Reports from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy estimated the 8.9-magnitude quake shifted the entire planet on its axis by nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters).

Engineers typically design nuclear facilities with very thick walls. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not unusual for the reinforced concrete walls of these structures to be between 3 and 6 feet thick,‚ÄĚ Hamburger said Friday before reports surfaced about the Japanese blast. ‚ÄúThe reason the walls are that thick is not so much for structural strength, but rather because they use the concrete in part to shield any possible radiation.‚ÄĚ

Typically, equipment that‚Äôs most critical to safety at these plants has been rigorously tested for earthquake resiliency on so-called ‚Äúshaking tables.‚ÄĚ The equipment being tested ‚Äď pumps, control valves and electric motors - is attached to the shaking tables - which measure as large as 20 feet by 20 feet. Computers use data from past earthquakes to move the table and the equipment up and down and side-to-side to closely simulate movement from actual quakes.

‚ÄúThe entire design and testing process of these nuclear facilities is designed to withstand the earthquake, shut down safely and contain any radiation hazards,‚ÄĚ Hamburger said.

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Two members of Mubarak's party arrested in Egypt
A Mubarak regime supporter rides a camel through the crowds of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square in February.
March 12th, 2011
07:54 AM ET

Two members of Mubarak's party arrested in Egypt

Two men with political ties to Egypt's former leader have been arrested on charges related to orchestrating an assault on protesters last month in Cairo's Tahrir Square by attackers riding horses and camels.

A local prosecutor's office on Saturday identified the two as Abdel Nasser al-Jabari and Youssef Khattab - both of whom were members of parliament and ex-President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party.

The assault was considered by many a turning point in the effort to topple the Mubarak regime.

Mubarak's supporters - some of whom wielded whips - rode horses and camels and charged into the crowd of anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square in February.

Read the complete story on CNN.com

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March 12th, 2011
07:43 AM ET

Patrons rescued after floating eatery breaks free in Ohio

Customers at a Cincinnati waterfront restaurant got taken for a harried ride after the eatery broke free of its moorings, according to local media reports.

The Waterfront Restaurant traveled several feet down the Ohio River on Friday before being lodged under the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge, CNN affiliate WLWT-TV in Cincinnati reported.

Patrons were rescued when firefighters created a makeshift ramp and attached it to the barge, according to WLWT. A safety cable prevented the boat from floating down the river.

No injuries were reported in the incident, which involved about 150 patrons, according to CNN affiliate WKRC in Cincinnati.

Owner Jeff Ruby told WKRC that when he arrived at the scene Friday night it took him 30 minutes to persuade rescuers to let him aboard the barge.

Ruby said engineers would investigate the cause of the incident, according to WKRC.

WKRC said the Ohio River is about three feet above flood stage, which likely played a role in the incident.

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Filed under: Ohio
13 killed in New York City bus accident
The bus overturned on the New England Thruway in New York.
March 12th, 2011
07:30 AM ET

13 killed in New York City bus accident

At least 13 people were killed Saturday in a tour bus accident in the Bronx, a New York Fire Department spokesman said.

The accident occurred just after 5:35 a.m. when the tour bus was traveling on the southbound lanes of the New England Thruway near the Hutchinson River Parkway.

There also were injuries among the 32 passengers on board, with six of them critical, the fire department said. The people were rushed to the St. Barnabas and Jacobi hospitals.

The Bronx is one of New York City's five boroughs.

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Filed under: New York • Travel • U.S.