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Foreigners, wary of risk, flee Tokyo

[ 2011-03-15 10:38]     字号 [] [] []  
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Fearing the possible risk of contamination as Japan confronts a post-quake nuclear emergency, foreigners have begun a slow exodus from Tokyo, though some are maintaining a stiff upper lip.

Several European nations have advised their citizens to consider leaving the Japanese capital following two blasts at a quake-damaged atomic power plant 250 km to the north, sparking fears of a possible meltdown.

France went further, telling citizens to leave the Tokyo area "for a few days" if they had no specific reason to stay and warning that if a reactor were to explode, radioactive steam could reach the city in a "matter of hours".

"A third of our staff has left," said Stefan Huber, the Austrian deputy head of the European Union delegation in Japan.

He added that executives at several German companies such as Bosch, Daimler and BMW, as well as law offices, had evacuated their spouses and children, noting that in Tokyo's German community "it's a veritable exodus".

Marissa, a dual Australian-Italian national who has lived in Tokyo for the past six years with her husband and two young children, decided on Sunday that she was not taking any more chances and the family flew to Hong Kong.

"We just thought it was probably better to leave at this point in time ... I don't know about this nuclear issue, they don't seem to have quite got it under control yet," she said, asking to be identified only by her first name.

She said a decision by Tokyo Electric Power Co to institute rolling power cuts in her neighborhood had been a major factor, noting: "I won't be able to cook or give the kids a bath."

Huber said an e-mail sent on Sunday by the French embassy, in which it noted a warning from Japanese seismologists that a tremor with a magnitude of 7 or higher was probable in the Tokyo region, had prompted many to leave.

"The German embassy on Sunday offered the dependents of its diplomats the possibility of leaving. They all left," he said.

At Audi's office in Tokyo, a secretary said: "The office is closed this week because of the earthquake. Call back next week."

Japanese football team coach Alberto Zaccheroni and his staff flew home to Italy on Saturday, saying their families were "terribly worried" and needed to be assured that they were alright. No return date has been fixed.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Foreigners, wary of risk, flee Tokyo

About the broadcaster:

Foreigners, wary of risk, flee Tokyo

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.