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Local residents of Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture watch the devastation caused by a tsunami and earthquake. - 


Steve Chiotakis: Today's massive 8.9 quake in Japan devastated the northern part of the country. Damage came from the intense shaking, plus there's destruction from the subsequent tsunami. It's also rattling an economy that's seen better days. Coco Masters is the former Tokyo bureau chief for Time magazine. And she's with us from Japan. Good morning.

Coco Masters: Hi. It's good to talk with you.

Chiotakis: Yeah. Are you safe? What happened this morning? What did you feel?

Masters: I was at work when the earthquake started. When the room started to shake a lot, my immediate reaction was to get out of the building and you could hear voices in the hallway of people shrieking and getting a lot more worried about their situation. I had always thought that if I were going to be in a really strong earthquake that it would kind of hit like a train, but this quake just continued for about three minutes. And I thought that it would ease off, but then the chairs started moving across the room, tables started tipping, things were coming off of shelves. As a resident of Tokyo, you always think it's not if, it's when. But when I was under the table and under the desk and just watching all of this around me, I was in complete disbelief. Then you just think in your mind, wow, I wonder if this is the strong one or when the stronger one's coming.

Chiotakis: Is Japan capable of handling this?

Masters: These tsunamis have hit Tohoku region, which are not so densely populated. The average of the population is older. So my initial reaction was thinking how are the elderly in these areas going to get help? Is there money available to start with the clean up and to start to rectify all the damage that's being done? And I don't know. To what extent can you really prepare for something like this? Japan will be able to get out of this, but it's going to take a while to help those areas that have been affected most.

Chiotakis: Coco Masters, the former Tokyo bureau chief for Time magazine. Coco, thank you.

Masters: Thank you very much.