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About 130 Koreans unaccounted for in Miyagi, Japan

All Headlines 14:02 March 12, 2011

SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- About 130 South Korean nationals living in the Japanese prefecture of Miyagi, one of the areas hit hardest by a massive earthquake and tsunami, are unaccounted for because of power outages and inoperative phone lines, officials said Saturday.

South Korea's consulate in the Japanese city of Sendai, located within Miyagi, is trying to make contact with its nationals there and assess any damages to some 4,500 Korean nationals living in the prefecture.

"We had received word about 200 nationals who were unreachable so far. Of them, we have been able to make contact with between 60 and 70 people," said Koh Kyeong-ae, an official at the Sendai consulate, in a telephone interview with Yonhap News Agency.

"It's difficult to assess damages because of power outages and communication problems," Koh said.

Koh added there have been no reports of South Korean casualties so far, but the number of Korean nationals left unaccounted for was believed to be higher.

Up to 1,000 people were feared dead after the 8.9-magnitude quake and a giant tsunami rocked northeast Japan on Friday.

Officials in Seoul said they were trying to check for possible South Korean casualties, but telecommunication problems were hampering the efforts.

The possibilities of Korean injuries or deaths cannot be ruled out because about 910,000 South Koreans live in Japan, some 12,000 of them in six prefectures of northeastern Japan.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry set up emergency response teams in Seoul and at its embassy in Tokyo and consulate general in Sendai to assess any impact to its nationals.

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