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japan_flag.pngA director at the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco looked taken aback today upon hearing that another large earthquake struck two of Japan’s prefectures following the country’s 8.9 magnitude tremor Thursday night.

The quake and ensuing tsunami on the northeast coast of Japan has killed hundreds of people, and since then, more than 30 aftershocks of 5.0 magnitude or greater were felt in different spots throughout the country, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A 6.6 magnitude struck the Japan’s Niigata and Nangano prefectures at about 11 a.m. today, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

“I can’t believe what I’ve been seeing on television,” said Midori Yamamitsu, director of the San Francisco consulate’s information center.

Yamamitsu said her office has been fielding calls – though not many of them – to help some of San Francisco’s 10,000 residents who are from Japan.

Consulate employees put together a list of online message boards where they think family members in Japan may be reached. But there’s not much else the consulate can do except relay what they hear from Tokyo, Yamamitsu said.

One San Francisco resident with family in Japan was turned away when she approached a window at the agency. A representative told her to use Google to find information she needed.

“The land lines in Japan are completely messed up,” said Midori Okubo, a Bay Area resident since 1998. She came to the consulate to learn more about the quake, but was told to check the agency’s website.

“I’ve been able to confirm my mom is okay, but I’m worried about my father,” she said.

Okubo, who also has a brother and sister-in-law in Japan, said she might try to return to the country if her family was injured by the quake.

Saul Sugarman, Bay City News

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