Japanese student learns family is alive thanks to YouTube video

March 17, 2011 at 12:17 PM ET

Kosaka's sister held up a sign stating "we are all safe" in hopes that a news crew would catch the message on video.

Akiko Kosaka's family resides in Minamisanriku, a fishing village where half the residents are feared to be dead as a result of last week's tsunami, but thanks to a YouTube video, she knows that her relatives are alive and safe.

CNN reports that Kosaka — who is a student from Japan attending the University of California at Riverside — scoured the Internet for days in hopes of finding something that suggests that her family survived the aftermath of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. 

She breathed a bit easier when she received an e-mail explaining that her youngest sister "was likely safe in her middle school's shelter." But there was no word about the rest of her family — until late Sunday night:

[S]he received word Sunday night from a friend in Japan of the existence of a 45-second YouTube video showing her family home as the only one standing amid the rubble. The video highlighted her older sister holding a sign to a TV news crew saying in Japanese "we are all safe."

Kosaka expressed relief upon hearing of the video, but became distraught after she couldn't find it online, despite staying up all night looking for it.

Then a contact through a Japanese social network e-mailed her the link Monday morning.

Kosaka watched the video over and over — she suggests that she'd seen it at least 50 times in 24 hours — and cried in joy and worry. She is still concerned about the health of her family members and wishing that she could get a message to them — just as they got one to her. 

In hopes that her family will somehow discover that she saw its sign, Kosaka gave the following message to a CNN news crew:

My older sister, Shoko, I saw your video. Thank you very much for being alive. It made me really happy that you are worried about me even in this tough situation.

Grandpa and grandma, how is your health? Dad and mom, I know that everything is tough right now with your job and everything but I am so glad that you are alive. I really look forward to seeing you guys again.


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Rosa Golijan writes about tech here and there. She's a bit obsessed with Twitter and loves to be liked on Facebook.