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Elon students studying in Japan safe after 8.9 magnitude earthquake

by Anna Johnson,
  • The earthquake, which struck March 11, also created a tsunami. Currently, concerns are being raised about the state of damaged nuclear plants. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

The three Elon University students studying in Japan are safe after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the country, said Eric Townsend, director of Elon's News Bureau.

The five Japanese international students studying at Elon all have reported their families are fine, according to an e-mail sent by Smith Jackson, dean of Student Life.

The Japanese media has reported that the quake has killed thousands, and hundreds of thousands more are left displaced.

Juniors Sarah Naiman, Dina Hilaris and Kenny Tamres are studying at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan, 502 miles from Miyagi Prefecture, the epicenter of the quake.

Naiman said she felt the earthquake on the fifth floor of her apartment complex but was one of the few in the area who did. Later in the night she learned how serious the quake was.

She said she doesn't know anyone personally affected by the disaster but there are students from the area impacted. The students' classes have not been distrupted, she said.

Senior Joe Siler studied at Kansai Gaidai last semester.
He said he has sent out Facebook messages checking on his Japanese friends.

"I sent out a massive message to my friends to see how they are doing," he said. "All the replies say they are OK but one girl said her father is in Tokyo, so she's worried about him."

The Elon Alumni Association updated its Facebook page stating 2005 alumna Amy Jo Jenkins, the director of aquatics at the U.S. Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan, was all right and there were no damages.

"We are OK on Yokosuka base," Jenkins' Facebook message read. "No injuries that I heard of and no major damage here."

It is unknown how many alumni are currently in Japan.

President Barack Obama called the disaster a heartbreaking situation and the United States would offer the Japanese government any assistance needed.

"The main struggle is the loss of loved ones," Siler said. "It will take time to recover, but the deepest part is the loss of friends and relatives for everyone over there. My heart and prayers go out to them."

There was a moment of silence at 10 a.m. at College Coffee where three students from Japan spoke about the crisis. A meeting was held later in the day to brainstorm fundraising ideas.

Individuals can send a $10 donation to the relief efforts in Japan through the Red Cross by texting "Red Cross" to 90999.