Tokyo earthquake witness: 'I couldn't even stand up'

Tokyo earthquake witness: 'I couldn't even stand up'

A Tokyo resident reports on the moment the 9.0 magnitude quake hit Japan
Tsunami, earthquake, Tokyo, survivors, disasters,
People stand outside a building in Tokyo following the 9.0 magnitude quake that hit Japan.

The earthquake that hit Tokyo this afternoon was unlike anything I have ever experienced in my eight years of living here.

"Tremor" doesn't even do the sensation justice. It felt like an extended sensation of vertigo.

**For the latest live updates on the Tokyo earthquake click here** 

I couldn't even stand up at the peak of the motion, which rolled over us in waves, a great swaying like a carnival ride -- only not knowing when the "ride" would end. 

When it finally did there was silence. And then the sirens began to wail.

Tokyo is a city of technology, technology that prevented the quake from causing more casualties here than it might have.

A system of complex sluices and floodgates diverted tsunami waters.

Local and bullet trains went into automatic shut-down, and evacuation alarms sounded in skyscrapers downtown.

Throughout it all I had a sense of trepidation, a sense of fear, but surprisingly little panic.

On the street in front of my home on the western side of the city, neighbors who only spoke rarely gathered to discuss which elderly residents needed checking in on.

Passers-by stopped to see if there was any new information.

There are reports of sporadic fires downtown, but Tokyo seems to have escaped the brunt of the damage.

The hardest-hit areas are the Pacific coastlines, which were inundated by tsunami floods in the minutes after the first shockwave.

The government immediately issued an evacuation order, but there wasn't sufficient time to move such a huge number of people so quickly. 

Footage of cars attempting -- and in some cases failing -- to outrun the water hint at what could be many casualties to come.

As I type these words, three hours after the first tremor, train services are just starting in Tokyo again, but many lines remain stopped.

The elevated expressway ringing the city is at a standstill, with reports of many accidents along its length.

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.


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