Searching for Missing Americans After the Disaster

There are no official estimates of the number of missing Americans in Japan.

ByABC News
March 12, 2011, 2:44 PM

March 12, 2011 -- With the TV on around the clock in her Atwater, Calif., home, Tokiko Harper is desperate for any sliver of news she can get about her 84-year-old sister Kazuyo Komatsu.

"I don't have much of a hope," she told ABC News, her voice cracking. "My sister is old and she was probably alone at that hour. I am afraid."

Harper is just one of the presumably hundreds of people in the United States who are seeking any information on family or friends now missing in Japan. The official death toll following Japan's huge 8.9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami Friday had reached 686 by Saturday afternoon and could eventually reach 1,000 according to officials there.

Thousands of people are still unaccounted for.

The State Department's Consular Task Force alone has reported receiving "thousands" of inquiries, according to spokeswoman Julie Reside, who did not provide an exact number.

"We have accounted for many U.S. citizens in the Sensei and Miyagi areas, and continue our efforts to locate others," Reside told ABC News. "U.S. citizens are not required to sign up with the Department when they go abroad, so we do not have an exact count of U.S. citizens in the region."

The United States Agency for International Development is sponsoring the travel of urban search and rescue teams from Fairfax, Va., and Los Angeles.

Google launched an online tool, called "Person Finder: 2011 Japan Earthquake," to help keep track of missing people. The Red Cross also has its own family locator web site,