NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, JAPAN – Our group of 24 alumni and friends of NIU is safe and warm and together. The earthquake hit just moments after we landed at Narita International Airport. I was seated in the back of the plane so I know everyone was off the plane and walking through the Terminal on the way to Customs when we felt the floor moving.
At first I thought we must be near a shuttle or have a train overhead because that is how it sounded. There was a roar and a rumbling all around and then everything began to shake - the walls, the windows, the overhead signs -- and I started to look around and see people hugging the walls and moving out of the open spaces.
Several of us were just about to enter a large room with a high ceiling (just before stairs to go down to Customs) and we stopped because dust and small debris were falling from the ceiling. Once we were in line in Customs we felt two strong aftershocks and we were told to get on the floor. Two big lights fell from the ceiling in that area.
Once we got through Customs we were rushed outside away from the buildings. We had to leave our luggage inside and hurry out. People remained calm and obeyed the officials who were using speakers at various points outside.
We have not left the airport yet because Traffic Control advises not to be on the road yet. Estimates for the 45-mile trip to Tokyo are 5-6 hours.
We were fortunate to obtain a nice coach to get our group in to be warm and ready when we can travel. The airport is packed with thousands of stranded travelers. The airport gave out bottled water and blankets. We thought we would be sleeping on the floor in the airport.
I was so glad when we secured the bus for our group - thanks to the travel company we are working with here. We are constantly updated with news from our local guide and our faculty host, John Bentley.
My cell battery is almost out so I need to find an outlet in the Terminal now. I will try to get back to you once we can travel to Tokyo. Thank you so much for your concern and for helping us get the message out that we are OK.
Sincerely, Pat Anderson