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BBC Orchestra 'Shaken' by Historic Japan Quake

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Members of the BBC Philharmonic, caught up in the Japanese earthquake, have described it as "scary stuff."

Ninety members of the orchestra were in their tour bus traveling from Tokyo to Yokohama when, crossing a bridge, the earthquake rocked the east side of the country. All of the members are said to be safe. Newly released video shows the bus swaying violently as the quake struck.

The tremor, which came at 2:46 pm local time, is the biggest earthquake to ever hit Japan.

Philharmonic tour manager Fiona McIntosh told BBC News that they had arrived at the Yokohama concert hall safely but the evening's concert was canceled. The Manchester-based orchestra is on a tour of Japan where it was scheduled to perform 10 concerts in 17 days.

Other reports from touring artists continue to emerge.

The American violinist Anne Akiko Meyers had arrived at Osaka Airport shortly after the quake struck. "I heard of the previous earthquake but had no clue that there was another devastating one until we got in our car to go to the hotel," she said in an e-mail. "The driver had to circumvent the city to arrive at the hotel an hour later because of the traffic and the Hilton hotel in Osaka (!) is sold out because of it.

"Every channel on TV shows unbelievable devastation and there is a feeling that we just landed in the 'emergency zone.' I don't have concerts until next week, and have not heard anything from the presenter as we have literally just plopped into our room." Meyers is scheduled to perform with the Osaka Philharmonic on March 15 and 16.

Conductor Daniel Harding had also recently arrived for a series of concerts with the New Japan Philharmonic at Tokyo's Sumida Triphony Hall. "Phones only working intermittently but safe, if lightly shaken!" he commented by Twitter.

The Friday evening concert went on as planned although the audience was much smaller than hoped for. "Just played Mahler 5 for the 50 who made it," Harding wrote in a later Twitter update. "Hope the other 1750 are all ok. Wonderful atmosphere on strangest of days."

The Maggio Musicale company of Florence, in Tokyo with Zubin Mehta, posted on their web site that they were shaken up but not injured.

The 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck about 80 miles off the Pacific coast of Japan, triggering a huge tsunami.

More details to follow