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Residents feel effects of Japan disaster

Staff Photo: Alena Parker. Restaurant owner Yukimi Tomioka watches a Japanese news station Friday afternoon at I Love Sushi restaurant in the Kroger Shopping Center on Ga. Highway 138. On Friday, Japan was hit by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake that in turn caused a 23-foot tsunami and more than 50 aftershocks, according to the Associated Press. Tomioka said her family is safe, but she was still concerned about the effects from the disaster.

Staff Photo: Alena Parker. Restaurant owner Yukimi Tomioka watches a Japanese news station Friday afternoon at I Love Sushi restaurant in the Kroger Shopping Center on Ga. Highway 138. On Friday, Japan was hit by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake that in turn caused a 23-foot tsunami and more than 50 aftershocks, according to the Associated Press. Tomioka said her family is safe, but she was still concerned about the effects from the disaster.

CONYERS -- Locals some 7,000 miles west kept a watchful eye Friday on the situation in Japan.

A magnitude 8.9 earthquake occurred just off the east coast of Honshu, Japan, on Friday and, in turn, caused a 23-foot tsunami and more than 50 aftershocks to tremble through the country. The earthquake has been called the world's worst in recorded history. Hundreds of people are reported dead and almost a thousand injured from the disaster.

The TV was tuned to a Japanese news station during the Friday lunch hour at I Love Sushi Japanese restaurant, located at 1745 Ga. Highway 138 in the Kroger shopping center.

Restaurant owner Yukimi Tomioka came to the United States about 20 years, but still has family in Japan.

She said Friday that her mother, father and brother were safe. Phones were down, so she relied on e-mail and Facebook to check on her family. She said they live in a city called Nagoya and were not affected by the disaster.

"It is a little bit south of Tokyo, so it was OK. But my mother said there was still shaking," Tomioka said.

Tomioka said she remembers an earthquake when she was a small child, but those were measured only at magnitude 5 or 6.

She said some of Friday's customers shared about their relatives living in Japan and their safety. She said people in Tokyo, the world's largest city, are finding refuge at college campuses.

"The campus is open to anybody," Tomioka said. "There's no transportation right now. Everything's stopped."

Students at Veterans Memorial Middle School in Covington were able to see just how strong the giant earthquake was on an AS-1 seismometer. Science teacher Kathryn Henderson said in an e-mail Friday that Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, or IRIS, gave her the instrument a few years ago and it has been operating since then. Japan's earthquake registered on the VMMS instrument Thursday night. Students were able to see the signals from the waves on a computer.

"The earthquake struck at 5:46 UTC (Universal Time) and its seismic waves reached VMMS approximately 12 minutes later," Henderson said in the e-mail.

The waves from Japan's tsunami put most of the Pacific region on alert. Waves reportedly first hit Hawaii on Friday morning.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.