Raleigh middle school students safe in Japan

Lauren and Livia Prestifilippo

March 11, 2011 7:29:47 PM PST
Students from Exploris Middle School in Raleigh are safe in Japan after missing Friday's massive earthquake.

The students' plane was supposed to land in Tokyo about ten minutes before the earthquake struck but instead it was delayed in Dallas and later diverted to Osaka.

Some parents were panicked after learning the children's flight didn't land as expected.

"It was a nerve wracking night because we knew they still weren't there, and one of us had woken up and we had the computer on our room," parent Jennifer Prestifilippo said. "And we looked up at the flight tracker and saw that the plane wasn't showing anymore."

Prestifilippo said she and her husband were on the phone right away trying to find out where her two middle school daughters were.

Lauren and Livia Prestifilippo were on their way to a sister school in Japan as the devastative earthquake and tsunami hit.

The concerned mother said she and her husband finally got through to American Airlines.

"Their flight from Dallas was scheduled to land in Tokyo at 2:30, which would have been before the earthquake at 2:46 so I am so grateful," Prestifilippo said.

All eight students, their principal and a teacher from Exploris are safe.

"They are in a hotel in Osaka, and they're going to spend the night there and from I understand, they're going to take the bus back to Osaka's airport," Prestifillippo said.

Prestifilippo was able to see her daughters thanks to video chat.

"Oh, it was such a relief to see their faces," she said. "They looked tired and they knew on the flight that there had been an earthquake."

The group is moving ahead with its plans to visit its sister school and go to Hiroshima.

Prestifilippo said she wouldn't have changed a thing.

"I've been asked before, am I sorry that they went and not all," she added. "Not for a minute have I been sorry that they've gone. It's such a wonderful experience."

At least two people from a local Baptist men's group are trying to make their way to Japan to help with disaster relief but they are concerned that getting there will be a challenge.

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