UTSUNOMIYA, Japan -- When the floors and walls began to shudder and groan, the hundreds of engineers at Honda's global r&d center instinctively dove under their desks.
Seconds later, the ceiling started crashing down on them as the monster 9.0-magnitude earthquake hammered the tech center, located an hour's train ride north of Tokyo.
After four weeks, Honda's sprawling third floor body design unit remains a wasteland. Plaster panels, insulation, air ducts and electric cables dangle from the ceiling as if a bomb had gone off.
Yet just a few buildings away, a makeshift engineering center is buzzing with activity. Hundreds of displaced designers sit crammed into a spare work space at a mishmash of salvaged tables, tapping away at computers amid a tangle of extension cords and computer cables.
President Takanobu Ito, who invited reporters to survey the carnage and witness the rebirth, said it showcases Honda Motor Co.'s resilience and resourcefulness.
"With everything that happened, I can confidently say that the recovery of our product development was very fast," Ito said during the tour on Friday, April 8. "I was guessing it may take several months in the worst case ... and I was extremely happy we restarted activities in a few weeks."