Japanese students at SEMO check on family in disaster zone

By Crystal Britt - bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - 56 Japanese students are currently enrolled at Southeast Missouri State University.

It was a major effort throughout the day on Friday as university staff worked to reach out to those students as they frantically check on family and friends in the disaster zone.

"I couldn't believe it, I can't believe it now," said Southeast sophomore Katsunari Asano.

Asano is from the Japanese city of Sendai. That is near the earthquake's epicenter where police report finding hundreds of bodies.

Asano has stayed close to the TV or the internet ever since he heard about the disaster.

The first thing he did was send an e-mail to his family.

"My mother sent me a message immediately," said Asano.

It was a huge relief as he feared the worst.

"All of my family is safe, but my home I don't know about my home," said Asano.

It was a busy day at the International Center on campus.

Workers there spent the day checking on all 56 Japanese students.

"We were able to reach a lot," said Zahir Ahmad-Executive Director of International Programs and Services. "They reassured us that so far all of their families are okay."

They're making sure the students have all the resources they need.

"If students need counseling with the counseling center we can help with that," said Ahmad.

He says they can also help the students get back home if they need to return.

Takeshi Fujii works at the Recreation Center on campus. He continues to check his phone for updates.

"My entire family is in Japan still," said Fujii.

So far, thanks to social networking sites he's been able to track down just about every family member.

They are all safe he says including a cousin in Tokyo.

"She's stuck in her office because there's no public transportation system working," said Fujii.

A magnitude 8.9 quake, and 23 foot tsunami followed by dozens of aftershocks is hard to even begin to comprehend for those who call Japan home.

"It's heartbreaking," said Fujii.

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