TOKYO, Japan (CBS) – A professor at Temple University’s campus in Japan says he wasn’t injured in today’s earthquake there, nor were any Temple students.
Dr. Kyle Cleveland (right), study abroad advisor for Temple’s Japan program, says this most recent earthquake and its aftershocks were the most dramatic he’s ever experienced.
“You know, we give orientations to our students and try to scare them into thinking about what to do in this kind of a situation. And this was exactly the kind of thing we warn about,” he told KYW Newsradio on Friday in a phone call from Tokyo.
He says about 29 million people live in the Tokyo-Yokohama area, and virtually all of them were in the street walking home when the first temblors hit.
“Japan is the most seismic active country in the world, because it’s a series of volcanic islands, so earthquakes are quite common — but of course you don’t feel most of those. It can be months between any earthquake that you can even perceive. This earthquake was qualitatively different than anything we’ve experienced. This was the real deal,” Cleveland says.
He says over the past 20 years that he’s lived and worked there, he’s experienced many earthquakes.
“You know, earthquakes hit occasionally — they last 20 or 30 seconds and they’re over. But in this case, it built gradually and then it continued probably for about two or three minutes. I thought the building might come down. And when I looked outside, I could see the trees and the light poles swaying unbelievably.”
And he notes that the most dramatic earthquake damage was not in Tokyo, but in the northern part of the country.
Cleveland explains that when a substantial earthquake hits, in Japan, mass transit shuts down.
“In Japan, once there’s a certain threshold of magnitude that’s reached, the sensors automatically stop the trains. And even though there may not be damage to the trains, they have to check the tracks, so the entire grid went down,” Cleveland said.
The Temple Japan web site said the school was closed today.
Reported by Hadas Kuznits, KYW Newsradio 1060.