Gotta Watch: Stories of survival
A tree is pulled over by tsunami waves.
March 15th, 2011
12:20 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Stories of survival

Among the countless stories of devastation in Japan, there are also some amazing stories of survival. Here are a few of them:

'Looks like a bomb has gone off' – Brian Barnes was in Japan with an environmental group that protects dolphins. He was there to monitor dolphin hunts when the massive quake hit. He began rolling as the destruction began.

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'How I survived the quake'– Zach Branhamm, an American teaching in Japan, recorded part of his journey to escape the tsunami. In this interview, he describes a 20-hour walk to find his girlfriend.

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'We could not stay standing' – An NHK journalist is finishing an interview with a local fisherman as the quake hits. The video she shot starts with a low rattle and she says within 30 minutes, the whole town was engulfed.

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Worried parents reconnect with son – Parents of students, teachers and tourists traveling were almost certainly consumed with anxiety after the massive quake struck. This is Paul Fales, a teacher, who is reconnected with his parents via phone for the first time since the earthquake hit.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Japan
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. pleasedotell

    So cruel!!!!!

    March 15, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Hank

    That guy in the purple jacket which is a english teacher seems like a real stoner for an english teacher. I feel sorry for him for he must be in some serious shock.

    March 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • redmonde

      yea. I agree, it does seems like he's in a lot of stress.. I feel sorry for him too. I pray he is able to recoup from this along with the other millions of people stuck in this catastophe.

      March 15, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • hankhogan

      He only seems stoned because of the signal propagation delay.

      March 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dover


      March 15, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. foghorner

    HANK, Get on track buddy, this is a post on "how to mess with people." sheeesh!!!

    March 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |

    WOW! that got flagged quick.. funny how the first admenment has been thrown in the garbage..

    March 15, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • foghorner

      The funny thing is, you didn't swear or anything like that. Freedom of speech? NOT ON OUR WEBSITE!!

      March 15, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • matthew

      Please tell me how the first amendment applies to this website.

      March 15, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |

      you should be able to say something in reason.. if your not cussing or anything.. this story is about the quake in j-pan..

      i mean you can't even comment on the story with out it getting flagged cause you can't say the j-word..

      March 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • addsadw

      Cnn is an Illuminati

      March 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. peg

    What a selfish man.

    He drove through town after the quake, didn't offer a ride to anyone, drove to the top of a cliff and filmed the tsunami? He even sounded excited when he said, "Here it comes!", as he watched the entire town perish.

    Then he went back to the town to take more photos? He looks strong. Perhaps he could have helped rescue any still alive, rather than hightailing it out of the area.

    At least he is home, intact, and will make plenty of money from his footage. Perhaps he can even get some good speaking jobs, as a result.

    March 15, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Well said Peg, and good points. Sad really. Very, very sad.

      March 15, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      I didn't get that impression at all. He seems very compassionate and very affected. I mean, he saves dolphins for a living for goodness sake.

      March 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ramdomact

      At that point, any delay could have meant not making it to safety. Looking at some of the other videos you can see people running away or driving apparently totally unaware anything was coming. It was looking like even 10 seconds could have made a difference in making it to the hilltop or not. I saw one video clip where someone looked like they were litterally 50 feet from a safe elevation but didn't quite make it.

      General rule...go uphill...and as quickly as possible once the shaking stops.

      March 15, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lost

      By that logic you're wasting time blogging this when you could be at your local shelter feeding the homeless or the ARL walking a stray.

      March 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      It's rather easy to judge the morality of someone's behavior in a survival situation from the comfort of your own home. None the less, I can find no wrong doing in his behavior.

      I am from the midwest. When the tornado sirens go off I don't go knocking on my neighbor's door to make sure they have room in their closet/basement, I just assume they know the drill. He is a foreigner in the land that gave Tsunami it's name, they probably knew what to do better than he did.

      March 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      So, peg, who has been through so many catastrophies. Have you ever seen anyone die in front of you? Have you ever seen entire towns washed away? Have you ever taken photos of dead people, discolored from drowning, so maybe they can be identified? Have you ever seen your life flash before your eyes? You are a pure idiot, you don't know how you would react in a situation like that, and yes, I would have been excited about seeing that sunami, it doesn't mean you are glad it is happening. You're just a loser with nothing better to do but complain.

      March 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • bunfish

      How do you KNOW he didn't offer rides or warn people? Maybe he just didn't mention it. Some people really jump to conclusions.

      April 20, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |

    they didnt like your joke.. it was funny i thought.. i cant belive they deleted it that quick..

    March 15, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. pcollen

    What makes you think MSN will be any better.

    March 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sarah

    May God be with us all.

    March 15, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dover

    See ya'

    March 15, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Patricia

    Thank you CNN for re-uniting extremely worried parents with their son. This is the power of media globally in a disaster. I lived through several earthquake scares in Hawaii and YES, it is a wise instinct to 'go higher' - immediately. You know when all the locals are up on the 4th floor and tourists rushing around on the beach!

    March 15, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jorge

    Funny thing about the man that "saves dolphins for a living": Just because he loves dolphins a doesn't mean he loves humans. I've heard and read many examples of animal protection activists that would rather humans be killed than animals. For all we know Mr. Purple Jacket Dolphin Rescuer could care less about the loss of human life.

    Typical self-absorbed liberal...the guy was almost enjoying filming himself walking through the aftermath. As he walked throguh the after math people were being crushed, suffocating, and probably screaming for help. Instead, this liberal dolphin rescuer chose to film himself as he took a leisurely stroll through a disaster zone. Pathetic.

    March 15, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • hmmm


      What have you done yesterday, today and will do tomorrow for human beings? Istn't it a hallmark that humans have evolved their compassion to help not only humans but the other creatures that share our planet. And by the way, you represent the mindset that humans are primary in all things, so why aren't you compassion with this other human - doesn't your logic extend to him?

      March 15, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Myjackdaniels tshirt

    Flying is aways better without prayers. Prayer is not profit. Jack daniels is. Like the king of morocco.. Who needs women raising a fuss especially when they are pregant and returning from yet another banned protest. See? Once again..prayer is not profits but those jack daniel enforcers know when truly traditional.. intelligent and highly literate women have stepped out of line. Maybe a few military bases are better for such kings of decency.

    March 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. banasy

    What Jorge, does your political leanings have to do with these stories of survival? Oh, that's right...nothing! Just another way for you to throw dirt on a party you don't agree with. Now *that's* pathetic!

    March 15, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Itsame

    @jorge firstly not all libs are tards, that said. I agree with you that the animal and nature extremist are very much liberated retards that have more concern with saving animals that would maime them in a minute than feeding a starving fam next door. and the whole animal rights thing is done as a trend by alot of noveau hipsters anyways..

    March 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. historian

    His behavior is not much differentfrom news reporters and photographers.I wonder how many war victims could have bee saved if all these journalists gave up their jobs to save them. Then, we wouldn't have anything to comment on. That will be a shame for those who have made negative comments here

    March 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
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