Manila asks Filipinos in Japan to evacuate
AGENCIES MANILA FILIPINOS living within the 20-kilometer radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan have been urged to evacuate and those within the 21-30-kilometer radius of the plant to stay indoors, as ordered by Japanese authorities, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.
Assistant secretary and spokesman Ed Malaya issued the statement in a live radio interview after fire broke out anew from the same plant early on Wednesday morning after the deadly 9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami which struck the northeast region of the country last week.
At the same time, Malaya said that those within or near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant should also observe the 10-kilometer exclusion zone imposed by Japanese authorities.
In a separate e-mailed statement, the DFA said, “Those residing outside the exclusion zones could remain and continue with their normal activities.” “However, those who are concerned about ongoing developments may wish to voluntarily relocate to areas further away or to voluntarily depart the country for the time being,” it said.
“Filipino nationals who cannot get in touch with the Fukushima Prefectural Government may contact the Embassy so that it could inform Japanese authorities of their location,” the DFA statement said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo said that the Embassy consular team in Sendai would be taking Filipinos who would like to be relocated to Tokyo.
This was after the team received clearance from Japanese authorities to use the Tohoku Highway and proceed to Fukushima prefecture.
“The Embassy team, led by Consul General Sulpicio Confiado, will be leaving Sendai early this afternoon, where they are expected to pass by Fukushima to get Filipinos there, before proceeding to Tokyo.
They are gathering the Filipinos who would like to join the trip, and are expected to be in Tokyo late this afternoon,” the DFA quoted Ambassador Manuel Lopez as saying.
The team will use the bus which brought relief goods to the area last Tuesday, it said.
In a briefing for the diplomatic corps on Tuesday, Japanese authorities said that although some radioactivity levels have been detected in Tokyo, the level was “very low” to affect the health of people.
Authorities also urged the foreign communities in Japan, through their embassies, to stay calm in order to cope with the situation and without causing unnecessary worry and fear among the people.
An advanced consular team led by Vice Consul Ryan Pondoc arrived in Sendai on Sunday to touch base with Filipinos there.
They were followed by another team led by Consul General Confiado last Tuesday, the DFA said.
The teams visited evacuation centers to check on the conditions of Filipinos in the area, where they found them safe.
The message board of the evacuation centers also contained the Embassy’s contact details should there be a need to establish contact.
They also distributed relief goods to Filipinos there.
Philippine Embassy officers and staff in Tokyo, as well as those in the Consulate General in Osaka headed by Consul General Maria Lourdes Ramiro-Lopez and the Honorary Consulates in Sapporo, Morioka, Nagoya and Naha, continue to reach out to Filipino community members, as well as to quickly respond to requests for assistance or information.
These are on a 24-hour operation to immediately respond to the calls of Filipino nationals, the DFA said.
The Embassy and the Consulates maintain close contact with city and prefectural governments, and have full personnel complements to provide assistance, it said.
The Embassy issued an advisory to the Filipino community to take necessary precautions and report to the Embassy or the Philippine Consulates nearest them any incident of injuries or fatalities among Filipinos, it said.