Nova Scotia

'Everything was shaking': Nova Scotian in Tokyo

The earthquake that devastated northeastern Japan rattled Tokyo, sending people panicking into the streets, a filmmaker from the Maritimes says.

Stranded people turn train stations into 'refugee camps'

Rescue workers respond to calls in Tokyo's financial district. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

The earthquake that devastated northeastern Japan rattled Tokyo, sending people panicking into the streets, a filmmaker from the Maritimes says.

Jeff Eagar was working at home in Tokyo when the quake struck Friday afternoon. Pictures fell off the walls and books flew out of the bookcases.

Eagar ran out of his ground-floor apartment.

"There were people everywhere in the street looking at each other and no one knew what to do because they've never experienced something this strong before," he told CBC.

The 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck about 125 kilometres off the eastern coast of Japan, triggering a tsunami that swept away homes, boats and cars.

Eagar said he didn't feel safe in the streets of Tokyo, which is south of the worst-hit area. He said the buildings, streetlights and telephone poles shook for several minutes.

The epicentre of the earthquake.

"It was even hard to stand up because the earth was moving that much," he said. "It was a pretty scary five minutes."

He said his building was largely unscathed, but elsewhere roofs collapsed and walls fell down.

"There were hundreds of thousands of people in the streets because they were too afraid to go back into the office buildings, malls and shops. There were ambulances and there was smoke and there were fire engines so it was pretty chaotic."

All train lines are stopped, leaving people with no means to get around.

"My wife had to walk four hours back from her office to get home tonight," Eagar said. "A lot of people aren't so fortunate. I walked up to the local station a little while ago and it looked like a refugee camp. There's thousands of people sleeping on the floors on plastic and cardboard."

Shaking in Nagano

Like Eagar, Walter Ichikawa-Doyle is used to tremors but never felt anything like this.

Walter Ichikawa-Doyle, seen here with his family, says at first the thought it was the wind. (Walter Ichikawa-Doyle)

Ichikawa-Doyle grew up in Cape Breton but has lived in Nagano since the late 1990s. He was in a meeting when the earthquake struck.

"At first we weren't sure if it was the wind," he said.

"But it just continued and then the building started creaking and you started feeling motion sideways. It left you with a nauseous [feeling] in your stomach, almost like a motion sickness."

Nagano is about 200 kilometres southwest of the epicentre of the earthquake.

Ichikawa-Doyle said there is not a lot of damage in the city.

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