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We cannot determine yet whether this sentence was initially derived from translation or not.
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added by blay_paul, August 14, 2008
@ Japanese Speakers
Is "いませんでした" correct in this case?
Actually it's pretty common. I don't know if it's suitable for exams or something.
"iru" is often used for things that move (like cars, trains and planes). I checked this sentence with a native speaker and they said that it was acceptable.