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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Massive Earthquake, Tsunami Slam Japan; West Coast Tsunami Warnings; Japan Nuclear Plants 'Under Control'; Hundreds Dead in Quake & Tsunami; 'Tremendous Damage' in Japan;
Aired March 11, 2011 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Live from Studio 7, I'm Suzanne Malveaux.
We are following several big stories this Friday, March 11th.
The West Coast of the United States is watching for tsunami waves right now. They could begin crashing on shore any minute. That is because 10 hours ago, a major earthquake and tsunami slammed northern Japan.
President Obama will answer reporters' questions also in the next hour. Today's natural disaster, Libya's civil war, rising gas prices, all of those things on his radar.
And right now in Houston, Texas, doctors are updating the condition of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, shot in the head, you may recall, at their first medical briefing since late January. We're going to get an update on that.
I now want to go to Tokyo, Japan. That is where our Kyung Lah is there.
And if you could, set the scene for us. What do we know right now?
KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what I want to tell you, Suzanne, is kind of for you to take a look behind me.
It's after 1:00 a.m. here in Tokyo, and the city is virtually stuck in gridlock here. This is a city of 13 million people, and these millions of people are still trying to get home right now because even though the earthquake struck in the mid-afternoon here Friday, people are still trying to get home because the rail lines are shut down.
The other problem, if you take a look up above, above the road here, that's the highway. Many highways here in Japan are elevated, so those highways have been shut down because the government authorities are concerned about what happens if you have a large number of vehicles on those elevated highways, and we're still experiencing aftershocks here.
We just experienced a rather strong aftershock just a few minutes ago, so it's an experience that this city is still going through. People still trying to get home, and many people live an hour outside of this city. So if you have no rail, if you are stuck in traffic, if you even come here by far or can get a taxi, it is just exceptionally tough here.
The city is virtually locked out. Many people are going to be spending the night sleeping in subways, and at this point that's the way Tokyo is.
But if you talk to people here in the city, what they will tell you is that they feel relatively well off, because if you just look north, the incredible pictures have been broadcast all day throughout the city. Many people have seen them, and you see the devastation, this massive tsunami coming ashore just north of here. Certainly, people here, even though they are having a tough time tonight trying to get around, trying to get back to their families, at least here in Tokyo, as far as lives lost, damage, devastation, Tokyo has been relatively unscathed -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Kyung, they must feel relatively lucky there. What is the sense of the mood? Are people tense? Are they nervous? Are they relieved?
LAH: Well, if you have to -- before we talk about the mood of people here in Tokyo right now, we want to put this in perspective.
This is a country that routinely experienced earthquakes. You feel them all the time here, and so for people here to become alarmed, yes, that's something that's noteworthy, and that is definitely something I would say they are feeling, especially here in Tokyo.
They are feeling alarmed because the aftershocks are still coming. There is though not a sense of panic because people are used to earthquakes. They have been hearing about them since they were children, about how to behave, how to get your earthquake kit together, how to get home safely, and how to behave as a community in a crisis. So that's something that I would say, people are alarmed, people are concerned --
MALVEAUX: It looks like we lost the connection to Kyung Lah there.
The magnitude 8.9 quake hit 230 miles northeast of Tokyo, where she was 15 miles underneath the ocean. Walls -- walls of water swept over towns and farmland in northern Japan.
Just take a look at those unbelievable pictures as a tsunami pushed muddy rivers over homes and cars. You can see it there.
Kyodo News agency says a 33-foot wave rolled over the town of Sendai. Officials say that hundreds of bodies now have been found. We don't even know the true death toll because this disaster is still unfolding, but you can see those pictures, unbelievable situation.
And there, the earthquake also swayed skyscrapers, brought daily lives to a standstill across the country. You can see that damage there. Subways, trains, Tokyo's airports, all shut down. An American living in Tokyo describes this terrifying jolt as a carnival ride.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT ALT, AMERICAN LIVING IN TOKYO: The ground was rolling for an extended period of time. I wasn't exactly sure what to do or where to go. I had never been prepared for anything like this.
My wife and I stood outside and basically held on to the outside of our house. You couldn't even stand up.
I mean, literally at the peak of these waves that were washing over the ground, you literally could not stay on your feet. You had to kind of crouch down in a ball or put your back against something so you didn't fall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: A CNN iReporter shot this video that you're watching now at his home. This is just a few hundred miles north of Tokyo. I want you to listen to this.
That is the sound of things crashing down all around him. You can only imagine the sense of fear when he was actually shooting that. To even be composed to shoot that, unbelievable.
Now, here you're seeing ships powerless against the force of this amazing water, this tsunami. Boats you can see bobbing around, unable to fight these currents. Eventually, the overwhelming rush of water slamming them into a bridge. And the fierce jolts rocking Tokyo office buildings for more than a minute.
Look at this.
You can see the sheer power of this earthquake in this video, shaking, ripped a road right down the middle, as you can see, on the yellow line. That road, split in half. One lane was shifted four or five above the other.
Take a look at that. Unbelievable pictures there. You can just see the damage.
The first waves from the tsunami started moving ashore in Hawaii now for -- about three hours ago. These scenes, in Honolulu earlier this morning. Waves across the island chain have been sent about seven feet high in some places.
Right now parts of the United States, the West Coast, are starting to feel the impact.
Now, I want to get to Chad Myers.
Because, Chad, you have been dealing with this, and it's really quite unbelievable. What are we talking about for the West Coast? CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, we're talking about a wave that's still coming across the Pacific Ocean that will eventually crash on shore into the Western Sea.
This was a very large series of events. We always talk about aftershocks. We rarely talk about foreshocks, F-O-R-E.
They happen as almost a precursor to a large quake. This area had been seeing two days worth of large 6-and-7-point earthquakes. Finally, last night, all heck broke loose with the 8.8 aftershock to the foreshock, and now we're seeing shocks all around the country. So all those things that are damaged by the earthquake, becoming re- damaged or just moved around again in places that they certainly don't need it.
The story here is so far -- I just got this in my ear. There are no reports of American casualties or injuries in the quake or in the tsunami, so far. There are a lot of Americans that live in the Japanese islands. There are a lot of Americans, whether it's military or just civilian people, that live there.
So I know there's a lot of people watching all the time, wondering what happened. So far, not one report of an injury to an American.
There, right there, the island, the quake, that big star. Three hours after the quake, six hours after the quake, and now nine hours after the quake, that's where the wave is.
Think about throwing a big rock in the water, a pond, and all of a sudden those waves keep going and the waves keep generating away from the big rock. That's what we have now, and we know that there are at least four waves out there, one after the other, about 20 minutes apart.
They have been hitting Kahului, in Hawaii, in Maui. Maui, kind of two volcanoes. And right in the middle is a harbor.
That harbor has gone up seven feet, down seven feet, up, down, up, down, four times now. So four separate waves out there about to come on shore.
We have live cameras on the West Coast. Get rid of this here. Live cameras on the West Coast, and just looking for all these things.
You can even go to CNN.com/live and look at all the Web sites we have, all the live cameras we have. This one from KOIN, one of the harbors there, waiting for the waves to come. So far, nothing, but they're on their way.
Crescent City, forecast to be an eight-foot wave. You need to be off the beach. You can't be in that. You need to be away from the shore.
MALVEAUX: Chad, how dangerous is this, do you think, for those on the West Coast? MYERS: You know, I'm not chicken little with the sky is falling, because I haven't seen anything yet. But, if there's a seven-foot wave in Hawaii, it didn't really slow down much all the way to California.
There may be seven-foot swells up and then down, up and then down, along some of these coastal communities, especially communities that have a beach that might be shaped like a banana, like a crescent, like Crescent City. That's why they're forecasting an eight-foot surge there. That's eight up and then eight down.
So this could be almost -- you know, this is sloshing back and forth with the many waves, at least four waves -- three to four waves -- that are out there right now. It's serious, it's the biggest earthquake we've seen in the Pacific Ocean for my lifetime. That could have produced and probably did produce a tsunami that will affect the West Coast. You can't be on the beach today.
MALVEAUX: All right, Chad. Thank you. Please keep us posted.
We want to go live to southern California now for the latest conditions there. Our CNN's Casey Wian, he joins us from Seal Beach. That is just south of Los Angeles.
Casey, you're bracing for something. What are you seeing so far?
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far it's been very, very quiet. And you can see behind me, this beach is absolutely empty. The water, remaining fairly calm right now.
The reason that beach is empty and the parking lot's almost empty is because 2:00 this morning local time, about six hours ago, local police shut down the Seal Beach pier and shut down Seal Beach. They are just concerned about this possible tsunami that is approaching in probably about a half hour now.
We're expecting a tsunami wave of between two and three feet in this area, so no one has ordered any evacuations, although in the community of Newport Beach, about 10 or 15 miles south of here, Newport Elementary school, which is very close to the ocean, has been closed today.
Other precautions that have been taken in this area, the USS Dubuque, which was anchored at the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station very near here, has been ordered out to sea. And I think we've got some pictures we can show you of that. It took place a little bit earlier today, just out of an abundance of caution, because that carrier is involved in loading weapons at the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station.
And what you can see now here, if we can pan over this way, you can see a lot of folks anticipating this tsunami, and here just looking to see what exactly happens. We're on high ground here, so most folks believe that we're safe. We're probably 15 feet or so above sea level. We're just watching and waiting to see what happens when this tsunami wave actually arrives here, expected in about half hour -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Casey, local officials, do they believe that's a good idea, for folks to be out there? I mean, I know you're elevated, but do they suggest that people be so close to the water like that?
WIAN: Well, they haven't suggested that people evacuate these little higher areas around the coast, but what they have said is that people should stay off the beach, absolutely, stay out of the harbors and marinas. They have said that that is very, very dangerous.
What they are most concerned about is the strong currents that this is going to create. They don't seem so worried about water washing onto shore in massive amounts, but they are worried about what could happen when these currents arrive in this area and if anybody is in this water.
MALVEAUX: All right. Casey, they have gotten plenty of warning, so we appreciate your report. We'll get back to you momentarily.
We're going to bring you continuing breaking news coverage of the earthquake, the tsunami, including the latest developments from Japan and the West Coast.
Also, we expect a news conference by President Obama in the next hour. We're going to get a preview from the White House straight ahead. And also, we're going to get a live report from Japan, someone who experienced that earthquake on the ground.
MALVEAUX: Want to go to some live pictures we're looking at there. We are watching together here -- these are live pictures out of San Francisco, the beach there. We're looking at the water come up on the shore as people anticipate these waves to grow, the tsunami that is headed towards the West Coast.
You can see there, there is no one on the beach from that vantage point. It looks like they've cleared the beach. They have warned folks with plenty of time that a tsunami is coming, threatening the coast of California, as well as all of the West Coast, Oregon and Alaska as well.
People are simply bracing to see what happens in the moments ahead, in the hours ahead, as these waves are expected to come on shore. Just how large they're going to be, we are uncertain. Just how dangerous or powerful, we do not know yet. And so we are keeping a very close eye on the coast there, on the West Coast, as this tsunami approaches now the various states.
And this out of San Francisco, California.
I want to go to Japan for a firsthand account of this powerful, powerful earthquake. It was a monster earthquake that sparked the tsunami in the first place.
Longtime radio broadcaster Kamasami Kong is joining us from Tokyo.
First of all, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. I understand that you called in this morning. It was one of the scariest things that you have ever experienced. Tell us what happened.
KAMASAMI KONG, RADIO BROADCASTER: Absolutely, Suzanne. I'll tell you, it started off like so many other earthquakes, where, you know, you get a little shaking going on, and you think, well, it's going to stop in a minute or so. But this did not stop. This just continued shaking and shaking.
And then it started to get really violent. Books were flying off the shelves, dishes were falling, breaking. And that's when I bolted. I jumped out of the apartment with no shoes. I mean, that's how scary it was.
I ran out of the house with no shoes and no coat. And this is wintertime, as you know, here in Japan.
My heart was pounding like crazy. I got to the fire escape and, of course, the whole building was shaking like crazy by that time, and other people were trying to exit the building as well. And by the time we got to the street, everybody was -- you know, they had their hands over the top of their heads, wondering if things were going to be falling or what was going on.
But it was scary. And it's still scary, because the aftershocks have been continuing right on into the night. And now it's about 1:20, 12 minutes past 1:00 in the morning here in Japan.
MALVEAUX: Do you have -- is there power around you, or is it dark outside? I imagine that it might be even more frightening not to be able to see what is happening in light of all the aftershocks that have followed.
KONG: Where I live right now, yes, we do have electricity. And I do have heat. We do know, however, that there are many homes and that there are many people without both electricity and heat.
And there are many people who can't even get home tonight because the taxis are all crowded and the trains and the subways have all stopped running. So many people are kind of stranded out there tonight.
I was in the great Hanshin earthquake, the one that hit Kobe a few years back, and that was scary. But this was beyond scary. This was the scariest thing I've ever experienced in my life. I'm still trembling.
MALVEAUX: We are so glad you're OK.
How long do you think this even lasted, those tremors and that earthquake that you experienced? Did you have any sense of time or where you were?
KONG: Time pretty much stands still, but I would have to say a minute, something like that. I think the first part of it started and maybe 15, 20 seconds went by. And, you know, you're being shaken around a little bit and you think, well -- by the way, we just had an earthquake a couple of days ago as well, and that kind of came and went.
And so, you know, when you feel these things, you don't get two too worried until it suddenly starts to get violent and it really shakes you up. But as for time, it's just kind of been a continuing thing. The main -- the heaviest shock part of it, I guess, lasted for maybe 20, 30 seconds, something like that, maybe more, but --
MALVEAUX: And Kamasami, how did you calm yourself down? How did you calm yourself down? How did you get over that initial shock and fear? You said you were shaking.
KONG: You know, Facebook helped a bit. I was communicating with lots of friends and relatives on Facebook and with friends in Hawaii, on some of the various radio stations there, and drinking tea, lots of tea. And, you know, it's hard to be calm because we're still feeling the aftershocks, so I think a lot of people, it's going to be a sleepless night for a lot of people here in Japan.
MALVEAUX: Well, Kamasami, we certainly hope that you can. I know it's going to be difficult to get some rest, but that you do, and we are happy that you are safe. Thank you.
KONG: Suzanne, thank you very much, and thank you for taking time.
MALVEAUX: President Obama talks about the U.S. response to the earthquake and the tsunami in a news conference. That's going to happen in the next hour. But he has already reached out to Japan's leadership.
Our senior White house correspondent, Ed Henry, is joining us.
Ed, what can you tell us about the calls that the president made and how he's keeping up with what is taking place, and even what might be on its way to the West Coast?
ED HENRY, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes, Suzanne. This is something that's consumed the president since very early this morning.
We're told by the White House aides he was woken up about 4:00 a.m. Eastern Time by his chief of staff, Bill Daley. He's been getting briefings and information about it.
But you're right, he also, about 10:15 a.m. Eastern Time, reached out by phone to the prime minister, Prime Minister Kan of Japan, to consult and offer any U.S. help needed. Interesting, because as you noted, the president will be having a news conference. It was supposed to be actually this hour, about 11:15 a.m. Eastern Time, right about now, but it's been pushed back to about 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. No doubt, the White House making sure the president has the most up-to-date information before he goes out there and addresses the American people, addresses the world about this situation.
We got a preview when he put out a written statement earlier saying he and the first lady express their condolences to all of the people in Japan who lost their lives. He said that the commitment and alliance between the U.S. and Japan is, in his words, "unshakable," and that the U.S. will be there to help in any way.
Secondly, he also noted that he has instructed FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency here in the United States, to get on top of this situation and make sure they are following what's happening in Hawaii, some of the West Coast states like California, to make sure people are getting the proper warnings about possible tsunamis and make sure the federal government is ready to react with local and state officials -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: And Ed, I'm assuming that this is -- the press conference is going to change focus somewhat, that he will be addressing this at the top. But what are some of the other things that he wants to make sure that the American people are -- his message today in particular.
HENRY: You're right, Suzanne.
You know, last night, when word first broke that he was having this news conference, a White House aide said he wanted to talk about rising gas prices. That's obviously a very big domestic economic issue for the American people right now.
It's obviously tied into all of the unrest we're seeing play out in the Mideast and Northern Africa. That is playing a role because of oil from Libya, oil from Saudi Arabia, et cetera.
But beyond that, now, you're right, it's certainly expanded to U.S. reaction to this tragedy. We're told by White House aides the president will open things up with some opening remarks, not just about gas prices, but now about the earthquake, tsunami as well.
But you can bet he'll get questions about the economy and jobs, Libya, the ongoing situation in the Middle East. There's a lot on his plate right now. This just adds to it -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: All right. Ed, we'll be watching the next hour of that news conference.
HENRY: Good to see you.
MALVEAUX: Good to see you as well.
Well, this powerful earthquake, followed by this devastating tsunami, it creates all kinds of injuries that emergency crews have to deal with.
Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, joins us. And Elizabeth, if you can explain, particularly in Japan, I mean, with all the water, the sewage, the crush -- I mean, we saw those pictures of houses and cars just floating. I mean, I can't imagine. We don't even know the death toll right now of what they are dealing with.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, we don't know the death toll, we don't know the scope of the number of injured, or of the devastation, but we do know from, you know, having been through earthquakes, you know, all over the world, that there are certain things that they look for.
And first of all, of course, would be crush injuries. And so people who are stuck.
And as we saw in Haiti, people can survive more maybe for longer than had been previously thought, certainly for this long. And hopefully, in the days to come there will be rescue crews going out there.
One of the problems is the remoteness of this area. I mean, they are having to helicopter troops in. They are trying to get 8,000 troops in there, the Japanese government, to try to save people.
And then secondarily, what you have happen is that the weather there, it's extremely cold. With the wind-chill, it's 30 degrees. So if you're out there and you're injured, and especially if you're wet --
MALVEAUX: In the water.
COHEN: -- hypothermia can set in very quickly. And so that's another concern.
And then longer term, there are concerns about dirty water and sanitation, will these people have clean water to drink, how quickly can they get supplies to these people? I mean, the scope, it's really hard to even get your head around how big this is right now.
MALVEAUX: And how much time do you think people have? I mean, obviously, these hours are critical, days are critical. But we saw in previous cases, some people can survive up to a couple of weeks maybe?
COHEN: Well, you know, it really depends. I mean, we certainly saw in Haiti that people survived longer.
I mean, I watched a little baby come into a hospital who had been in the rubble for four days. And, you know, previously, people had talked about sort of a smaller window than that. So hopefully it will be many days that people can survive, but, again, this weather is going to be a factor.
MALVEAUX: OK. We'll be watching those rescue efforts.
And Elizabeth, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
MALVEAUX: Well, the first tsunami waves hit Hawaii just a few hours ago. We're going to get a live update, next.
MALVEAUX: Live pictures there out of San Francisco. You can see the waves crashing onshore. There's a tsunami threat all of the West Coast. And so, we're keeping a close eye on just how big those waves get, but people have been warned to stay away from the beaches there.
We really don't know the extent of the threat at this moment, but certainly we're keeping a close eye on that as we have seen a monster, monster earthquake hit Japan, triggering an incredible tsunami that has moved across from Japan to Hawaii, and now, warnings that it will hit the West Coast.
You actually see somebody there on the beach. I think it looks like they might be walking the dog but they are on the beach, not recommended to do, because we just don't know the threat level there, but it is going to get worse. Those waves are going to get much, much bigger as that tsunami is expected to crash on shore throughout the West Coast and there in San Francisco.
We want to also highlight the major news what took place, what started this whole thing in the first place, that monster earthquake hitting Japan earlier today. There are concerns now about the nuclear facilities, the nuclear power plants that were also struck in the area, whether or not they are safe.
We are joined by Janie Eudy, I believe. She is in Louisiana, and her husband Joe was there at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant when this massive earthquake hit.
Janie Eudy, are you with us now?
JANIE EUDY, WIFE OF NUCLEAR PLANT WORKER (via telephone): Yes, I'm right here.
MALVEAUX: You were on the phone with your husband after this happened?
EUDY: Yes. He finally got a hold of me at 6:47 this morning, after we'd been on watching the news, trying to get him, calling, online, couldn't get anything. And he got a civilian phone, got through, gave me a call to let me know that he was OK. I don't know how many of the crew is OK or how many they lost. He wasn't for sure either because they were in the pitch dark when he finally did get to call.
MALVEAUX: Tell us what he told you. What was it that he experienced when the earthquake hit?
EUDY: Well, they didn't have any warning. They were on the job, and then, all at once, the building is shaking. They are used to some shaking which happens a lot, but he says this one was different. It was -- it was really hard.
And it kept shaking and it got worse and got worse and then the lights and all the glass started falling, and that's where he got his feet and his arms and stuff were cut, because it was falling down on the employees. It was falling everywhere. They had insulation falling.
They had the cranes were rocking and shifting. The crane operators couldn't get control of everything is what he was telling me. And they were -- they knew that this was something totally different. They have never experienced.
They were scared, and -- and they were trying to get it all together, just getting worse and worse and everything was shaking. And the next thing they were told to get out, leave, evacuate.
And as they were trying to get out, he said he was -- he didn't know if he was lucky, but he -- to me he was because he's still with us. As they were leaving, going out the doors, that some of the -- that's when the tsunami hit and the water was -- he said it looked 30 foot down, at least, and it was -- he could see parts of the town. They were -- had been used to going to eat and whatever, the buildings were going and the --
MALVEAUX: They were washed up in the water.
EUDY: He was seeing them go by, just going by at that moment. And people, cars, homes, everything just going right on by.
MALVEAUX: How did he escape when the water came in, when the water rushed in?
EUDY: He had made it out the door yet. He had cut his feet very bad. He said there was so much glass in the plant from all the lights and all the fixtures falling.
Everything was falling and everybody was trying to grab who they could to get out, that he had cut his feet, and his arms, and so it slowed him down. That's why he didn't get out there and didn't get caught up in it.
MALVEAUX: So, actually, slowing down helped him, in some ways maybe prevented him from getting caught up in the huge waves that we saw?
EUDY: Right. That's what saved him.
MALVEAUX: Does he think that he's lost some of his friends who are there at the plant? You said that he feels lucky.
EUDY: Well, yes, because he said he thinks he feels some have -- were injured. He said he thinks some of them were dead because of what -- because of the massive things falling down and falling on them, and the big types and, you know, the duct work and all was coming down. He said they hit them in the head. They were falling. But he didn't -- you could just grab who you could and get out. MALVEAUX: And he got out of building. Where is he now? How did he manage to get to safety?
EUDY: Well, they were hollering -- the ones who were making -- what I understand from him, they were hollering where to meet, and they were staying in a hotel and Tamasuki (ph), a little town there, so not knowing that the hotel was tore up, that's where they were headed all in different vehicles, and to meet up.
When they got there, that's when they found out that the hotel had been hit. There wasn't anything left of his room except the door. The building, the structure is weak so they can't go in because what's left, it's going to fall. Some people -- some of the locals which they made it. He said they had taken refuge in some parts of the building and were trying to -- because it's cold, and some of the guys were changing shifts which they go through and they didn't get out with all their clothing. So, they are not totally clothed or prepared for the weather because they just took off running.
MALVEAUX: So, is he being treated at all for his injuries?
EUDY: Oh, no.
MALVEAUX: You said his feet and his arms have been cut up by glass and was hit on the head.
EUDY: No. Nobody has seen them. They are just out there. They found each other. They are now in a van, and they were trying to get up.
He said there was a big hill, and they are trying to get up as high as they could, so -- so it's if the water comes back again, and he said the ground is continuously shaking, the tremors won't stop as we were talking. He said he can see the van just rocking and rolling, and he said he was shaking, and you could hear a loud noise and I heard the people in the background. He said that was the local people taking shelter in the parts of the hotel that was left and they were running out.
MALVEAUX: Can he seat water from where he is? We're looking at this -- the massive water that just swept away the buildings, the cars and people who tried to get to safety. Can he actually see --
EUDY: Yes, he can say, the way he explained to me, he could. The roads, they tried to take from the plant back to the hotel, he said there's a little bit of -- there's not that much road left. Most of it is gone, and he had seen where when the cracks were, as they were going along, the cracks, cars had fallen into it, houses had fallen into it.
It -- to me, it just sounded like hell on earth. It's just unbelievable the things he was telling me he was seeing.
MALVEAUX: Do you -- do you think your husband is now stranded where he is? Is there any way for him to leave? EUDY: No, there's no way. The train, they don't know if it was pushed out into the ocean, but it's not there. There's -- the roads are all tore up. So, there's no way for him to get out of there.
So, they do need rescue, and that's where they are at. They're right behind that hotel there waiting in a white van, and they are -- they are cold, they are wet, and they are waiting.
MALVEAUX: And how did he manage again, Janie, if you would, to get in touch with you? He has a cell phone. He simply called you on his phone.
EUDY: No, his cell phone doesn't work there, and with all the power out, the computers, I have been trying to email him so they weren't working. And it was just a local, what I understood local person had a cell phone, and he got out on it. They tried and it worked.
MALVEAUX: Well, we certainly wish him the best. And if you are able to reach him at all and to have him call in, perhaps we can -- we can locate him, where he is, you know, help in any way and get in touch with authorities and describe for us where he is and what the circumstance is.
It certainly sounds like it's a very difficult one. But, Janie, remain strong, if you will. We really appreciate you telling us about your husband's experience earlier today.
EUDY: If everyone would just try and hope and pray he can get home as they go out and look for him and bring all these guys home, because I know all their family is wondering the same thing I was all night. But they're safe. It was a good call to know that he is alive and that he's made it and he'll be strong. We'll back him up to get him home.
MALVEAUX: Certainly. He's certainly one of the lucky ones. Janie Eudy, and we wish you the best with your husband and, hopefully, we'll be able to get in touch with him. Thanks once again.
We'll have more after the break.
MALVEAUX: It's after 6:00 in the morning in Hawaii now. Tsunami waves started rolling there a few hours ago.
I want to go to our CNN's Carter Evans. He's on phone from Ewa Beach.
Carter, all eyes now on the water right now. What are we seeing?
CARTER EVANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, you know, the sun is starting to come up. So, hopefully, we'll be getting some damage assessment soon.
What we do right now is the significance of the waves that are hitting the shore here on the Hawaiian Islands right. We'd know that some of the largest waves hit the island of Maui, specifically the town of Kahului, Maui, six to seven-foot waves hitting that town.
There are reports of fish in parking lots, in the streets. Boats bottoming out as the water recedes, damage to docks and piers and structures along the coastline.
We're also hearing -- and this I found very interesting -- the big island of Hawaii is one of the most southern islands or is the most southern island in the chain, so it was getting some of the weakest waves. They had a series of sensors there. In fact, it does (INAUDIBLE). And what they are essentially are flood sensors, 100 feet or more inland, and what they do is when they get wet, they dial in on a cell phone and send out an alert.
Well, all of those sensors have been calling in on the big island and what that is telling scientists is the tsunami waves are going at least 100 feet inland in some places on the big island. So, that gives you an idea of the impact and the significance of the waves that we're seeing out of here. As far as the type of damage we might see now, the sun is coming up, they don't have actual eyes on right now, but they are seeing the energy from these waves is enough to, say, for example, in Maui, pick up a boat and slam it into a bridge and destroy the bridge. That's the kind of energy that we're seeing, not to say that that has happened, but scientists say they certainly would not be surprised to see damage like that.
MALVEAUX: Carter, I don't know if they have this information yet. Do they know how fast these waves are traveling -- how strong, how powerful?
EVANS: Yes. They travel faster when the water is deeper. So, when they are traveling across the Pacific Ocean, these waves can travel as fast as a jetliner, up to 500 miles an hour. But as they reached shallower water, that's when they began to slow down and burn off some of that energy. Of course, that is the energy that's coming ashore. When they hit the shore, they are generally going 20 to 30 miles an hour.
MALVEAUX: And, Carter, have you seen any people? You talked about fish, you talk about boats. Have people stayed away from the shores? Have they stayed away from these big waves coming in?
EVANS: Where I am, police are coming through the streets on their -- on their loudspeakers and issuing evacuation orders, and I have not seen people around where I am.
However, there are reports of, you know, we've seen these web cams and I've been talking to people who have seen people on the shoreline in front of some of these web cams. Undoubtedly, there's always someone who breaks the rules and goes out and takes a chance anyway.
MALVEAUX: All right, Carter Evans, thank you very much. We'll get back to you shortly.
MALVEAUX: Japanese officials are now telling us that hundreds, hundreds of bodies have been found. We don't even know the full scope of the earthquake, the tsunami disaster, because it is still unfolding.
Our Kyung Lah, she is still in Tokyo, that is about 230 miles from where the quake struck.
And, Kyung, you're a good distance from where it struck, but people all over, all over the country, are being impacted by what happened earlier today.
LAH: All of the country and still being impacted. It's almost 2:00a.m. here, and I'm going to actually -- I'm talking to you, Suzanne, via laptop on my Skype. I'm using a mobile phone connection, so I'm going to step out of the car where I'm at and give you a look.
And the reason can I step out of a car on a major road here is because this is what traffic looks like in Tokyo, in downtown Tokyo. It is at a complete standstill. I'm going to walk past here, spin you around. As far as you can see, traffic.
And I'm going to tilt the camera up, it's not a great shot, but can you see one of the infrastructure problems, what that is, that's the highway. The highways are above the local roads here in Japan, and so the highways have been shut down because the government officials are worried that if you place people on those highways and then there's an aftershock, a strong aftershock, then there could be further problems where -- (AUDIO GAP)
MALVEAUX: We are trying to see if we can get that connection back. Kyung Lah really doing an incredible job there of really trying to show us really what's taking place in Tokyo.
As she simply explained, the highways above the local roads have been shut down, have been evacuated and closed because they fear that the aftershocks, if people are on those highways an even cars, the aftershocks are going to cause those highways to come crashing down. So they are trying their best to preserve situation there.
And meanwhile, you have all of these people who are trying to escape, some trying to get home, some trying to figure out where the relatives are. And this is 230 miles away from where the earthquake actually happened. They are experiencing aftershocks. There's a lot of fear. There's gridlock.
That is where she is, and she just showed us very well a demonstration of what is it like to be there. She says that the whole country is being impacted by that monster earthquake and obviously the devastating tsunami that we are looking at the pictures from earlier and it is just unbelievable.
The death toll now in the hundreds, but we really have no idea, no idea how serious it is, because you take a look at the water that was just rushing through, just taking away with it houses, cars, buildings, people. It -- it is just an unbelievable situation that is there.
We are keeping a close eye on the aftermath in Japan, but obviously, as well the impending tsunami that is taking place that has approached Hawaii and will be approaching the west coast.
We're going to have more after the break.
MALVEAUX: I want to check in with our Chad Meyers for more on the tsunami. Tsunamis, how they are created, why they are so powerful, and where the tsunami is actually hitting at this moment.
Chad, what do we know about -- well, first of all, tell us what a tsunami is, because it is not just one wave, right? I mean, it seems to be like an ongoing phenomena, a series of waves?
MEYERS: We know that around Hawaii there were at least five waves at about six to seven-feet high. Now, that is high, and then six to seven feet low, and then again high. So there was a 14-foot range from low to high data in there.
The wave is caused by the movement of the ground under the ocean. It is caused, because in a subduction zone, which is the ring of fire, which is Alaska, Hawaii all of the way down to Sumatra, there is a part of the crust that is going below another part of the crust. When it goes down, it pushes this part down and then all of a sudden at some point in time, it pops back up.
We will see if this will play.
It pops back up. And when the crust pops back up, we will see that it pushes the water up as well. The water has to get out of the way, because all of the sudden the ground under it moved. If you are in the ocean, you don't feel it at all. That is why the USS ships are going out into the ocean, because it is a one-foot wave. But all of the sudden, you got out to the shore, and this water flows very far inland.
Now, I have to admit that we are not going to see anything like all of the pictures that you have been seeing in Japan. Nothing, nothing like that is going to happen in America, period.
The National Weather Service and NOAA has put out a map, and this is really an amazing thing that they have put out, where the earthquake epicenter was, where most of the water was moved and then the Hawaiian islands right there.
You look at the colors, the red or the more purple of the colors, the higher the wave generated is. Now, if you notice, all of the energy, it seems to be going down toward South America. There's not as much energy being directed toward North America, and that's why I believe that we are not seeing the large swells, the large waves on the Eastern part of the U.S.
Dave, go ahead and put this in motion. Now, another map. There are other things that go on. The ocean is not just some big deep 10,000 fathoms water. There are islands in the way. There are other oceans in the way. There are land masses in the way. And so the pebble that you throw here to make a big wave, bounce everywhere, they bounce all over the place.
The propagation of the energy was not really directed to the North American coast. It was directed farther down into the southern Pacific Ocean, but well, right there, that is Hawaii right there. It got hit by that eight-foot, seven-foot up and down wave. But I don't believe we will see that wave action in America, but it is the same story, you need to just stay off of the beach.
This is not going to devastate North America, but you need to stay off of the beach, because if there is a three-foot wave, you can't get out of the way, all of the sudden, it is three-feet high and then three-feet low and you are taken out to sea.
It is all about the movement of the ground under the ocean. The ocean gets a push up, that bubble has to move somewhere and that bubble is at this point in time is moving toward South Pacific.
We'll continue to watch every picture we have from Seaside to Crescent City to San Francisco. And there maybe some fluctuations in the elevation of the sea, not this devastation that we see from Japan where ships, people, houses, homes, cars pushed inland and then drug back out into the ocean with reckless.
MALVEAUX: Thanks, Chad.
We're actually -- we're seeing live pictures throughout the west coast. We're going to keep an eye on the pictures and we know that you'll bring us the very latest.
Thank you, Chad, appreciate.
We're going to take a quick break.