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Okinawan students missing following Osaka accident

Date Posted: 2005-04-28

Four Okinawans attending college on the mainland remain missing following Monday’s train wreck near Osaka.

Five of the commuter train’s seven cars jumped the tracks in Amagasaki, in Hyogo Prefecture, killing 90 and injuring nearly 500. Two of the cars crashed into an apartment building, trapping many. It was Japan’s worst railway disaster in four decades.

More than 5,000 people of Okinawan origin live in Hyogo Prefecture, where there’s an active Okinawa association with offices and club only a couple kilometers from the crash site. Kenichi Kina, the association chairman, says “We have received hundreds of phone calls from Okinawa from people who are worried of their relatives who live here.”

Kina said there were at least eight people with Okinawan names on the injured list released by officials, but noted the accident scene had been hectic as rescue operations continued over several days. He said it was too early to determine if any of those Okinawans were members of his association.

The Okinawa association leader expressed concerns though, about the four Okinawan university students who live in a dormitory. “I know that these students commute by train,” he said. “These four should have been back in the dormitory, but many hours after the train accident they have not returned and are unaccounted for at the moment,” Kina said.

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