The whereabouts of openly gay Chicago designer Nate Berkus, who was caught in the devastating tsunami on December 26 while vacationing with his partner in Sri Lanka, have been confirmed. In a post on Oprah.com, Oprah Winfrey's official Web site, Berkus reported his return and that photographer Fernando Bengoechea remains missing since the two were swept out to sea by the waves, which killed tens of thousands in Sri Lanka alone. Berkus is a friend of Winfrey's and a regular on her daytime talk show and in her magazine, where he does home makeovers and gives style advice.
"I am safe and home," Berkus writes. "Your prayers have been a blessing through all of this. The search for my partner, Fernando Bengoechea, continues, and your support in this search has provided comfort and solace to me and those close to Fernando. I ask that we all continue to pray and come together, as a people, in providing aid to those in need. And I thank you for allowing me and those close to me to have the time we need to heal through this devastation."
A report that Winfrey had hired a team of former U.S. Marines to go to Sri Lanka and search for Bengoechea was neither confirmed nor denied by a Winfrey spokesperson.