MORGAN -- After a magnitude 8.9 offshore earthquake late Thursday Utah time devastated northern Japan, Noriko Van Campen was relieved to hear her son was all right.
Van Campen's parents, who live on the west side of Japan where she grew up, called her around midnight Friday to tell her there had been a disaster.
Her thoughts immediately went to her 19-year-old son, Ben, who is seven months into his mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
She called the mission home in central Japan, south of where the country's largest earthquake ever was recorded and south of the devastating tsunami that followed.
The quake shook their city, Ise, but everyone in the mission was fine, she said.
But Van Campen has not heard from everyone she knows on the other side of the world.
Van Campen and millions of others woke up Friday morning to television images of a wall of dark water sweeping across farmland near the coastal city of Sendai.
"One of my friends, a friend of a friend, is serving in Sendai on a mission," Van Campen said.
She has not heard from her friend, Weston Lay, since the disaster.
Police said 200 to 300 bodies had been found in Sendai, although the official casualty toll was 185 killed, 741 missing and 948 injured.
"We watched the news. Water wiped off everything. It's a scary, scary thing," Van Campen said.
"It happens so suddenly and kills so many people so quickly."
Van Campen met her husband, Chris, while he was serving his mission in Japan 23 years ago.
While they were living there after their marriage, he drove trucks up and down the island nation.
Chris Van Campen said he recognized the same highways he used to travel in the scenes of destruction streaming on television that were just one result of a quake that shook dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile stretch of coast.
In a matter of minutes, large fishing boats slammed against overpasses or scraped under them and snapped power lines along the way.
Highways to the worst-hit coastal areas buckled.
The tsunami roared over embankments, sweeping across anything in its path inland before reversing direction and carrying the cars, homes and other debris out to sea.
The same images had Roy Yamamoto and his family glued to the television in their Ogden home all day Friday.
Yamamoto also lived south of the devastation before he emigrated to the United States in 1993.
About three years ago, he went back and visited what would become the affected areas.
"It's beautiful," Yamamoto said.
"There is more rich nature in that area and a number of good fishing boats and fishing villages."
The sights made him very happy, as he is a seafood-lover and owns Hanamaru, a sushi restaurant in Ogden.
Yamamoto also helped design an annual spring break student exchange program between Japan and Olympus High School in Salt Lake City.
Thirty Japanese students arrived just earlier this week.
Several of them have relatives in the northern end of the country, he said.
"But they can't do anything from here," Yamamoto said.
Yamamoto has friends in the northern area, but he has not made contact with them yet.
The telecommunications in that area of Japan are still in distress, he said.
At this time, the Red Cross is unable to accept inquiries to contact or locate family and friends in Japan, but there are several other resources available.
Inquiries concerning U.S. citizens living or traveling in Japan are referred to the U.S. Department of State's Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 888-407-4747 or 202-647-5225.
For inquiries about relatives who are not U.S. citizens but are living in Japan, the Red Cross advises to keep calling or to try contacting other family members who live in the region.
Even though communication networks are overloaded right now, the situation may change and access to mobile networks and the Internet may improve, Red Cross officials said.
If you have the cell phone number of a family member in the affected areas, you may use the following services to check whether he or she has registered a message: DoCoMo at dengon.docomo.ne.jp/ Einoticelist.cgi?es=0 and Willcom at http://dengon.willcom-inc.com/dengon/Top.do?language=E.
Services are available in English and Japanese.
When you enter the phone number on the webpage, remove the country code 0081 and add 0 at the beginning.
For example, to dial the number 0081-90-8877-6655, enter it into the website as 090-8877-6655.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.