“I screamed, and my host parents woke up and they thought it was really bad,” said Akiko Kosaka. “They asked what happened. And I said, ‘They survived!'”
(More on TIME.com: How to help earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan.)
As Japanese people around the world wait for news of their loved ones, 20-year-old Akiko Kosaka, a student at the University of California at Riverside, was brought good news on Sunday via a YouTube video.
“I didn’t think they survived,” Kosaka, 20, told CNN during a tearful interview Tuesday. “I cried for three days — Friday, Saturday, Sunday.”
In the coastal village of Minamisanriku, where Kosaka is from, more than half of the 17,000 residents are missing and presumed dead in the aftermath of last week’s tsunami.
In the video, a single house stands firm above a precipice of rubble, and a solitary figure on the balcony holds up a sign which read: “We are all safe.” That figure was her sister, 24-year-old Shoko. Shoko yells to the cameraman: “I’m holding up the sign to tell my sister in the U.S. we are safe.”
CNN then gave her the chance to return the message:
“My older sister Shoko,” she says in Japanese. “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.” (Via CNN)