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article imageAmerican teacher dies in Japan disaster, first US death confirmed

By Kim I. Hartman     Mar 22, 2011 in World
Chesterfield - A Virginia family has announced the body of their daughter, Taylor Anderson, 24, was found in disaster-stricken Japan, where she had been working as an English teacher since her graduation from college in 2008.
The Anderson family has been desperately searching for their missing daughter since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan March 11, killing thousands of people.
The Anderson's mounted an effort that included facebook in their search for the missing teacher. They had received a report from the organization that their daughter worked for that she had been found and was safe in Japan only to hear a day later that a mistake was made and their daughter was still missing, according to CBS News.
Anderson worked for Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme as an English teacher.
"Anderson was last seen March 11 riding her bicycle from an elementary school toward her apartment after the earthquake" according to her mother, Jean Anderson. “The earthquake hit, she was at the school when parents came by to pick up their children,” Anderson said in a telephone interview with the Washington Post. “Taylor got on her bike and she was heading home. That’s all we know.”
Yesterday the Anderson family received the news they were dreading to hear since the disaster ravaged Japan and they have released the following statement.
"It is with deep regret that we inform you that earlier this morning we received a call from the US Embassy in Japan that they had found our beloved Taylor's body. We would like to thank all those who's prayers and support have carried us through this crisis. Please continue to pray for all who remain missing and for the people of Japan. We ask that you respect our privacy during this hard time." -The Anderson Family
The Associated Press reports that "Anderson had a lifelong love of Japan and began studying the language in middle school. She moved overseas after graduating from Randolph-Macon College in 2008 to teach in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme. She taught in eight schools in Ishinomaki, in the Miyagi prefecture on Japan's northeast coast. During her stay there she developed a love for her students and for the Japanese people, her mother said."
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement today after learning of Anderson's death.
"It is with great sadness that we learned today of the tragic loss of Taylor Anderson, the selfless young teacher from Chesterfield County who has become the first American known to be killed in the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. We have watched the events unfold in Japan with heavy hearts and compassion for all of those who were impacted in this significant natural disaster. The discovery of Taylor's body earlier today brings home to Central Virginia the emotions and impact of these terrible events that we have watched unfold on television. We have held out hope that this graduate of St. Catherine's School and Randolph-Macon College would be found alive and well. And, we have prayed for her family during the difficult time of uncertainty since Taylor was last seen leaving the school where she taught English to Japanese students following the earthquake. Fittingly, she was last seen helping parents safely reunite with their children following the earthquake, an act which illustrates her dedication to her students and to the Japanese people she served. Today we join the Anderson family in mourning the loss of a wonderful young Virginian who personified the selflessness and sense of duty that Americans serving abroad have become known for. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Taylor's family and friends during this difficult time. "
"Officials with U.S. Embassy in Japan and the State Department have not confirmed if Anderson is the first known U.S. victim in Japan. Another 25-year-old man is presumed dead after being swept into the ocean March 11 by a swell from the tsunami on the northern California coast," reports the Gazette Times.
The Anderson family has not spoken publicly since learning of her death. No information has been provided on the return of her body to her family in Virginia or of any funeral arrangements or memorial services.
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