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Relief Work
Special> Earthquake in Japan> Relief Work
UPDATED: March 18, 2011
Aid Continues to Reach Japan, Evacuations Go on

While continuing to offer aid to Japan, many countries also are evacuating their citizens from the worst-hit areas of the country amid aftershocks and fears of nuclear leaks after Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

The disaster has so far killed at least 3,676 people and left at least 7,558 others missing, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the city of Wenzhou in east China's Zhejiang Province announced the donation of 2 million yuan ($307,692) to Ishinomaki, its Japanese sister city in the hard-hit Miyagi Prefecture.

The move followed Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu's remarks Tuesday that China would continue to provide Japan with necessary assistance in accordance with the latter's needs.

Previously, the provincial government of northeast China's Jilin Province said it would donate 100,000 dollars to the prefectural government of Miyagi while the municipal government of Changchun, capital of Jilin, pledged 500,000 yuan (about $77,000) to the municipal government of Sendai.

The Chinese government also announced its decision Wednesday to provide 20,000 tons of fuel as emergency assistance to Japan.

The amount,10,000 tons of gasoline and 10,000 tons of diesel, would be supplied to Japan in addition to the Chinese government's decision on Monday to provide 30 million yuan (about $4.6 million) in emergency humanitarian aid to support disaster relief.

At the same time, South Korea is offering boric acid to Japan to help it cope with its unfolding nuclear crisis.

Seoul has sent a sample of boric acid to assess usability of the material, which can slow down nuclear reactions and help contain radiation, before sending 52.6 tons as requested by Tokyo, said the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

The ministry added that it can well supply the requested amount of boric acid, with reserves at home currently estimated at 309 tons.

Radiation has been leaking from damaged reactors at a crippled nuclear power plant in the Fukushima Prefecture, affecting up to 190 people in the area and causing tens of thousands of residents to evacuate.

Japanese authorities have poured boric acid and seawater into the reactors in a last-ditch effort to cool the reactors following a series of explosions at the stricken plant.

Meanwhile, Vietnam's Red Cross on Wednesday affirmed the country's third donation of $10,000 to Japanese victims by Vietnam's Telecoms Group and Post Trade Union, after a first of $200,000 by the government, and $50,000 from the Red Cross.

Cambodia and Laos have respectively contributed $100,000 for the relief of the victims, while Indonesia and the Philippines are sending search and rescue teams to Japan.

Thailand, the world's largest rice exporter, has promised 15,000 tons of rice and over $6.5 million worth of assistance.

Regional organizations and countries outside Asia have also vowed to help Japan.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Wednesday extended its condolences to the Japanese government and people suffering from the catastrophe and pledged to help Japan overcome its difficulties, as well as erase future consequences brought on by the earthquake.

Meanwhile, Cuba has offered to send medical and rescue workers to Japan.

The official agency AIN said that the Cuban ambassador in Tokyo, Jose Fernandez de Cossio, said the Japanese government has acknowledged Cuba's willingness to provide rescue and medical aid.

As the aid work gets underway, evacuation of foreign citizens in the badly affected regions in Japan is also going on smoothly.

Gong Xiaodong, an official with the Chinese General Consulate in Niigata, told Xinhua on Wednesday that more than 3,000 Chinese nationals have been evacuated to Niigata from the three worst hit prefectures of Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate.

Gong said that the consulate has provided shelter and food to the Chinese and will also help them return home if they wish to.

In the mean time, Chinese airlines are putting on additional flights to Japan to evacuate citizens from the areas worst hit by last week's earthquake and tsunami and those affected by nuclear leakages.

China Eastern Airlines will send an additional Airbus 340-300 to Niigata on Wednesday, where about 1,500 Chinese nationals are waiting to return to China. China Southern Airlines said it has added four flights and is expected to carry 4,491 Chinese back from Japan.

China's flagship carrier Air China has said Tuesday that it currently operates 30 flights daily, with more than 7,000 seats, between China and Japan.

The Vietnam News Agency said that the Vietnamese Embassy in Japan evacuated 41 Vietnamese citizens and a German from Sendai city in Miyagi prefecture to Tokyo on Wednesday, adding that all the 42 people were given shelter at a pagoda in the capital city.

Another team, which went to Morioka city in Iwate prefecture, was expected to return to Tokyo late Wednesday with 23 evacuees, mostly students and trainees.

A third mission picked up 18 Vietnamese people in Fukushima prefecture and is making efforts to contact other Vietnamese students and trainees there, the report said.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka on Wednesday also decided to increase flights between the country and Japan to bring back concerned nationals, as more Sri Lankans have asked to return following the blasts in Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant. The first of the extra flights was to leave Tokyo's Narita airport on Thursday.

Around 20,000 Sri Lankans are believed to be living in Japan.

Also on Wednesday, Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez said that the government would repatriate the 1,852 Spanish nationals currently living in Japan if needed.

"We are not going to withhold any resources or efforts to ensure that our nationals are safe. We will put all of our resources that are necessary at their disposition," Jimenez said from Aman, where she is currently on a short tour of the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Ukraine also said Wednesday that it will send a plane to evacuate its citizens from quake-hit Japan.

(Xinhua News Agency March 17, 2011)


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