Thousands of Americans Unaccounted for After Tsunamis

Thousands of Americans unaccounted for (CNN)

The U.S. State Department is working to find thousands of Americans unaccounted for days after powerful tsunamis struck countries bordering the Indian Ocean. No exact numbers are available, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, but “we’re working at any given moment 2,000 to 3,000 names now that we’re looking for.” “We shouldn’t assume the worst. … There are often Americans who are outside of the regions that directly suffered who might not have gotten in touch.” Authorities have reported more than 116,000 deaths in at least 11 countries after Sunday’s tsunamis that were triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake.

Boucher said the department was getting about 400 calls per hour from concerned relatives seeking their loved ones. “In many cases, we are getting lists of these people out to embassies,” Boucher said. “Embassies then are able to track them down or hear from them or identify them.” Names are constantly being added to the list as new calls come in from families, he said. Boucher said 12 Americans are known to have been killed — seven in Sri Lanka and five. People are being asked to visit hospitals and morgues to identify Americans, Boucher said. More Americans are in Thailand than in any other affected nation, but they are being sought in other countries as well, he said.

The Thai government has assured U.S. officials, amid concern about mass graves, that the remains of non-Thai citizens will not be buried without proper identification, he said. Photographs, fingerprints and DNA samples are being taken and the location of foreigners’ remains is being monitored by the government, Boucher said.

Wow. This is the first indication I’ve seen that more than a handful of Americans might be victim to this disaster.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    Go to

    He’s a consular officer stationed in Chennai, and he’s posted his personal account of what he’s seen. He was sent to check on AMCITS and reminds everyone to register with the US embassy when you’re overseas just in case something like this happens.