Keeping Hope Alive

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Morgan Browning
CBS

Morgan Browning, 27, is back in the U.S. but he left his heart in Thailand. He was supposed to meet his girlfriend, Nicole Weissberg at the airport in Phuket. When she didn't show up, he spent a week searching through makeshift morgues for her.

"While it was incredibly difficult to look at these bodies, when I was done there was an incredible relief that she wasn't there,'' said Browning.

As CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reports, Browning's hopeful the American government will help but says he's relying right now on strangers: a Thai family who took him in and promised to keep looking for Weissberg.

"They're still looking for her on my behalf," he says.

Throughout the disaster zone, it is now estimated that more than 10,000 foreign tourists are dead, missing or unaccounted for. Most are Europeans.
At least 16 Americans died, but the State Department is still trying to get an accurate list of the missing.

Ten days after the disaster, with so many still looking for loved ones, there are questions about why it's taking the U.S. government so long to calculate the exact number of missing.

"Americans are a very mobile group, and they're a very independent-minded group," says Adam Ereli, deputy spokesman of the State Department. "They don't always register with consulates. They don't always register with embassies."

Barbara Ginther is using the Internet to try and track down her boyfriend Harvey Sherman who was studying temples in India and hasn't been heard from since Christmas Day.

"The blogs are source for good," says Ginther. "I just post and wait and wonder and worry."

Internet postings, like those on Lonely Planet or on one set up by the Red Cross, carry messages of desperation and occasionally responses with good news.But that information isn't always shared with the U.S. government, leaving so many of the unaccounted for just that, like Weissberg.

For Browning, it's still just too painful to give up hope.

"I want her home, I want to see her, I love her and miss her badly," says Browning about his girlfriend.