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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Embassies list 400 foreigners as missing

Staff writers

About 400 foreigners remained unaccounted for as of noon Wednesday, several dozen embassies told the Foreign Ministry in the wake of Friday's historic earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region.

A ministry official said the missing may not all be caught up in the disaster area and not all embassies have provided information, thus the number will probably change.

An estimated 48,000 foreign nationals are currently registered as living in disaster-stricken Miyagi, Iwate, Fukushima, Yamagata, Akita and Aomori prefectures.

Details of the breakdown of missing foreign nationals were not available, but the official noted many were Chinese and some were from Central and South America.

The Brazilian Embassy said it hasn't been able to contact about a dozen people since disaster struck, most of whom live and work in Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures. No travelers are included in the missing list.

The Brazilian government is not organizing or ordering any evacuation of the approximately 260,000 Brazilians in Japan at this point.

The Philippine Embassy said it hasn't been able to confirm the whereabouts of 42 nationals and has listed their names on its website. The embassy is trying to gather information but also has opened hotlines and encourages anyone who has information on the missing to call in.

The Australian Embassy said it hasn't located 94 people who may have been in the Tohoku region. There are approximately 3,400 Australians residing in Japan, it said.

An official of the Indian Embassy said there are no missing Indians at this point and all those affected by the disaster have already evacuated to a safe area.

The embassies of the United States, Britain and South Korea said they could not confirm the number of those missing at this point.

Fear and anxiety have spread through the foreign community in Japan. Some people have moved west or south, while others have departed the country. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have flown out citizens living in Japan who requested to go, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The ministry has been holding daily briefings with embassy officials since the quake occurred. Some officials have issued serious warnings over the nuclear plant explosions.

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