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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints confirmed Saturday morning that all of its missionaries serving in Japan are safe and accounted for.
According to the church website, leaders had worked tirelessly to make contact with each of the missionaries serving in Sendai following the 8.9-magnitude earthquake that devastated the city and surrounding areas Friday. Communication was difficult because of blocked roads and downed systems.
The church is now assessing the needs of its members and others impacted by the quake and resulting tsunamis.
In a statement released Friday, church leaders said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan following the recent devastating earthquake and tsunami."
Several of those missing missionaries are from Utah. Saturday's news brings huge relief to their families back home.
"It was a big relief," said Jennifer Hansen, whose brother, Elder Brian Shaw, is serving in the Sendai mission. "We would love to hear from him, obviously, but at the same time we are just glad that we know he is safe."
Friday's earthquake -- the strongest in Japan's history -- left hundreds of people dead and tens of thousands without homes. Aftershocks continue to shake the area.
Information from a 2011 church almanac indicates the 13.5 million-member Utah-based church has about 124,000 members in Japan.