WASHINGTON D.C., May 14, 2008 – World Wildlife Fund (WWF) officials said today they have received confirmation that 12 American tourists in China, who had been out of contact since the massive earthquake struck the Wenchuan region on Monday, have been located and are reported to be safe.
The tourist group had been part of a WWF-sponsored tour of China, which departed the US on May 5 and was scheduled to return May 18. The group was visiting the panda breeding facility at the Wolong Nature Reserve when the earthquake struck midday on May 12. Working with Chinese authorities, WWF was able to confirm via the use of satellite phone to an intermediary the safety of the 12 travelers.
WWF has been in contact with the families of the travelers since news of the quake came on Monday and has been working with the State Department and Chinese colleagues and officials around-the-clock. Families were notified of the group’s well-being early this morning and WWF said they were working closely with the tour operator in China on plans for seeing the travelers home as soon as conditions permit. Names of the individuals in the travel group were not released out of respect for their privacy.
“While we are relieved by this positive news about our travel group, we remain deeply concerned about the devastating impact this earthquake is having on the people of China,” WWF officials said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have suffered such terrible losses. We will be working with WWF-China in the days ahead to offer whatever support we can during this very difficult time.”