Earthquake in Tokyo

4pm, March 11th

Today, at a bit before 3pm, things started to get pretty shaky here in Tokyo. A series of earthquakes hit the east coast of Japan, originating on the north coast of Honshuu. Although the real damage happened in Miyagi, even here to the south in Tokyo the quake was somewhere between a 5 and a 6 magnitude. Soon after the first few quakes I could see smoke coming from the direction of the bay that I presume is the fires said to be happening on Odaiba. There are many more reports coming in on Twitter and other sources as people get a chance to take stock of things.

Interestingly, as the phones mostly went down here in Tokyo, many people turned to Twitter and Facebook to get their message out to others, pass on news and generally comfort everyone as the quaking went on. Social media as a way of getting messages out during disasters, wars, rebellions, etc is definitely a new and interesting phenomenon. There might be a message in there for governments and other public agencies.

At my own apartment, I had to run to catch some jumping teacups as they plunged off the sill in the kitchen. Actually, pretty much everything that was not really stable was hopping and threatening to jump, but luckily most of the things that fell were just cooking supplies. Otherwise, my apartment did pretty well. It is nice to live in a new building.

This was definitely the strongest earthquake that I have personally experienced and I am happy to say that I did not really feel any real panic or worry, although that could just have to do with the fact there is not much to fall in my apartment. More than an hour has passed since the first quake it is still a bit shaky here. I do hope that everyone is all right.

UPDATE

11pm, March 11th

It is almost 11pm and the tremors keep coming. I can hear emergency vehicles every few minutes, convenience stores are long out of easy to eat food and there has been a huge amount of traffic on the road accompanied by people walking home on the sidewalks. It is going to be a really long nervous night for most people here in Tokyo.

UPDATE 2

11:30pm, March 11th

Just finished writing a blog entry for my friend Paul’s site. You can see it here

UPDATE 3

4am, March 12th

It is 4am and still awake due to the after-shocks. I doubt that many people will be sleeping soundly here tonight. I do feel fortunate to be at home to wait out the night.

UPDATE 4

11am, March 12th

This morning (Saturday March 12th) I was out and about after a long night of staying awake, spreading info on Twitter and generally not sleeping. It was generally peaceful with small pockets of people trying to get home. Buying groceries was a bit harder than normal for a Saturday morning, too. Overall, everyone seems to have settled down considerably, although you can see people tense every time there is another aftershock.

UPDATE 5

1pm, March 13th

Stores seem to be running low on water, instant noodles, canned goods and toilet paper. Gas stations also seem to be shutting down as people line up down the road to fill their tanks. It could be a pretty sparse week or two until supply lines get stable again. At least people seem to have settled in and started to think about planning ahead and fixing the damage as opposed to just reacting to every tremor. Regardless, I think it will be a while before people really feel normal here again.

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jeremy

Photographer, road cyclist, wanderer, wonderer, music listener, sometimes sheepish but never a follower.

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