A steady stream of phone calls poured into the office of the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago on Friday, both from Chicagoans and Japanese nationals concerned about loved ones on the island country.
"It's been a challenge getting people in contact with loved ones," said Chris Kelly, a consulate spokesman.
The communication chaos in Japan has not spared even those who work at the highest levels of the Japanese government. Akira Tajima, Chicago Consul of the Japan Consulate has yet to be able to get in touch with his father or sister, both of whom live in Tokyo.
Much of his day has been spent trying to tend to the needs and concerns of the hundreds of calls placed to the consulate.
Tajima says he first learned of the tragedy at 2 a.m., when he was awakened by members of the media. He says he turned on his television and watched in horror.
"I was so shocked. It was impossible for me to believe what is happening in Japan," he said.
People looking for U.S. citizens in Japan can call the U.S. Deptartment of State, Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747.