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US victim in Japan fulfilled dream

Taylor Anderson, right, is the first known U.S. casualty in the Japanese earthquake.

Taylor Anderson, right, is the first known U.S. casualty in the Japanese earthquake. Photo by The Associated Press.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Taylor Anderson spent more than two years overseas, fulfilling her longtime dream to live in Japan, immerse herself in Asian culture and befriend new people.

Anderson’s body was found 10 days after an earthquake and tsunami devastated the coastal city where she taught English. The 24-year-old woman was last seen riding her bike away from an elementary school after making sure students were safe following the earthquake.

Anderson’s death was the first confirmed American fatality in the Japan disaster, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday as authorities continue to find and identify thousands of people believed to be missing. It’s not clear how many Americans might be missing.

“Given the ever-evolving situation, we are unable to give an accurate count of U.S. citizens in the region,” State Department spokeswoman Megan Mattson said in an email.

“What we can do to honor Taylor’s memory is by doing what she gave her life for, that is, reaching out to the Japanese people, in tangible ways,” said the Rev. Dorothy White, director of religious studies at St. Catherine’s School. Anderson graduated from its high school in 2004.

The school was planning a Japan-relief service project in her honor, White said.

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