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19 Taiwanese students still missing in northeast Japan

The China Post news staff -- More than 20 Taiwanese students and tourists in northeastern Japan remained unaccounted for yesterday after the massive earthquake hit the country, according to local media reports.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) said authorities were yet to get into contact with 19 Taiwanese students as of yesterday morning. No updates were available as of press time last night.

The ministry said 39 Taiwanese students were studying in Japan's northeastern Honshu region, but it had managed to get in touch with only six of them at Tohoku University in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture.

The students took shelter in the university's stadium, the ministry added.

The MOE noted that communication with the region was almost all dead, but it was still trying its best to locate the remaining students.

All Taiwanese students in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka are safe, the MOE added.

Taiwanese students in Japan and their parents seeking emergency assistance can call the 24-hour hotline of Taiwan's representative office in Japan at 002-81-80-6566-7779, or the MOE at 0919-929-803, the CNA said.

Japan's northeast coast was devastated by a massive tsunami on Friday, triggered by a magnitude-8.9 earthquake.

Two Taiwanese traveling in Sendai went missing after the quake, the United Evening News reported.

The Taiwanese tourists, Hsieh Liang-wei (謝糧蔚), 28, and Li Yung-shu (李詠絮), 38, were among a 22-member tour group, the paper said, adding the rest of the group would be flying back to Taiwan today.

The travel agency which arranged the trip has asked for help for Taiwan's representative office in Japan to locate the missing travelers, the newspaper said.

Another report cited Taiwan's association of travel agencies as saying that all 1,501 Taiwanese tourists in 54 tour groups in Tokyo and northeastern Japan were all safe, with no casualties reported.

But it did not say whether the number included the group to which the two reportedly missing tourists belonged.

The association was cited as saying that about a dozen of the groups would return to Taiwan yesterday.

Some tourists returning to Taipei's Sungshan Airport from Tokyo around noon yesterday recounted the fearful experiences, according to CNA.

A newly-wed couple said they were waiting for their flight back to Taiwan when the earthquake struck.

They said the airport was then shut down, and they had to spend the night there, dubbing their trip to Japan as an “unforgettable” honeymoon.

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 19 Taiwanese students still missing in northeast Japan 
A Taiwanese student, surnamed Liang, returns to Taipei, yesterday, showing some footage of the chaos in Tokyo recorded on her notebook computer after the massive earthquake hit Japan on Friday. She said she was on her way to the airport in Tokyo when the quake struck. (CNA)

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