Image: Congressman Christopher Smith, Joseph Evans, Teah Evans
Bebeto Matthews  /  AP
Congressman Christopher Smith, right, joins Joseph Evans, center, who hugs his wife Teah Evans as they pose with pictures of their daughters Sophia, 3, right, and Ashley, 7. The couple, from Howell, N.J., is trying to get their girls out of the Republic of Georgia after the Russian invasion with the help of Congressman Smith.
updated 8/14/2008 6:23:57 PM ET 2008-08-14T22:23:57

A couple was fighting to get their two children out of the Republic of Georgia after the Russian invasion of the country trapped the girls at their grandparents' farm.

Joseph and Tea-h Evans of Howell have sought help from U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith, whose office said Thursday that Ashley and Sophia Evans, ages 7 and 3, were safe.

The children were on their annual summer vacation at their maternal grandparents' farm in the western village of Chiatura. The area is removed from the fighting but isolated from the escape route to Armenia because Russians have occupied the city of Gori at a main crossroads in Georgia.

The conflict broke out last week after the Georgian military tried to occupy the separatist region of South Ossetia. Russia responded by sending in troops and tanks.

"My wife — forget it, she's on the floor in tears," Joseph Evans, 40, an N.J. Transit bus driver, told the Asbury Park Press for Thursday editions. Evans' wife, Tea-h, is a Georgian native who came to the U.S. 10 years ago.

Smith has been in contact with the State Department and spoken a number of times with the U.S. ambassador in Georgia, said Smith spokeswoman Mary Noonan.

"The recommendation right now is for the children to stay where they are because where they are is safe," Noonan said.

Meanwhile, Tea-h Evans' brother, Beso Tsutskiridze, a 28-year-old Georgian military veteran who lives part-time in Howell, traveled to Armenia try to find a way to return the girls.

The girls were scheduled to fly home from the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Aug. 26. The family says they can't get the girls to the airport.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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