Uncle reaches NJ girls stuck in Georgia

August 21, 2008 3:25:32 AM PDT
The uncle of two New Jersey girls trapped in the Republic of Georgia has reached the home where the children are staying, but the children for now are staying put, according to a congressman who's been helping their family. U.S. Rep. Chris Smith on Friday said Beso Tsutskiridze had recently arrived at his parents' house in the western village of Chiatura.

The uncle, Smith said, took a plane to Armenia earlier this week and then crossed the border into Georgia with a CNN news crew. The 28-year-old former member of the Georgian military made his way to Chiatura on foot after a Russian checkpoint turned back his car.

Smith said 7-year-old Ashley and 3-year-old Sophia Evans would remain at their grandparents' farm for now, under the advice of the U.S. embassy in Georgia.

The girls were visiting their maternal grandparents when Russian troops invaded Georgia last week. Russian checkpoints have blocked their paths to escape.

Calls to the girls' parents - Joseph Evans of Howell and his Georgian-born wife, Tea-h - and the grandparents in Georgia weren't answered on Friday.

Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, has been in contact with the U.S. State Department and spoken a number of times with the U.S. ambassador in Georgia.

State Department spokesman Karl Duckworth said the department is keeping track of about 30 U.S. citizens under 18 who are in Georgia without their parents.

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