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'We need world's help': Japan evacuee town mayor

Japan disaster death-missing toll passes 11,000: police
Tokyo (AFP) March 16, 2011 - The official toll of the dead and missing following a devastating earthquake and tsunami that flattened Japan's northeast coast has topped 11,000, with 3,676 confirmed dead, police said Wednesday. The total number of people unaccounted for in the wake of Friday's twin disasters rose by more than 800 to 7,558, the national police agency said in its latest update. The number of injured stood at 1,990. On Sunday, the police chief of Miyagi, one of the hardest-hit prefectures, said the number of deaths was expected to exceed 10,000 in his region alone. Amid a mass rescue effort there were grim updates indicating severe loss of life along the battered east coast of Honshu island, where the monster waves destroyed or damaged more than 55,380 homes and other buildings.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) March 16, 2011
The mayor of a town near Japan's quake-damaged and stricken Fukushima nuclear plant said Wednesday that it desperately needs help for thousands of evacuees sheltered there.

"We have received many people who were evacuated from the area near the plant," Masao Hara, mayor of Koriyama city, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of the nuclear plant, told AFP by mobile telephone.

"Right now some 9,000 people are at shelters in Koriyama," he told AFP, including 200 at a baseball stadium which was recently renovated to receive disaster evacuees.

"What we urgently need now is fuel, heavy and light oil, water and food. More than anything else, we need fuel because we can't do anything without it. We can't stay warm or work the water pumps.

"We also need to move our vehicles to collect garbage. I really would like to appeal to the world: We need help."

More than 200,000 people have been evacuated from a 20 kilometre radius around the power station, which has been rocked by a series of explosions and seen local spikes of radiation at levels damaging to human health.

"People are worried but acting very calmly," said Hara. "They're not in a panic at all. They get more concerned after they watch television and see how anxious the rest of the country is."

The Fukushima plant was damaged in Friday's massive quake and tsunami calamity, which killed thousands and left large parts of northern Japan desperately short of water, food, fuel and other basic necessities.

earlier related report
China planes, ship to aid Japan evacuation
Beijing (AFP) March 16, 2011 - Two Chinese airlines said Wednesday they had added flights to and from Japan to accommodate an expected increase in demand as China evacuates its nationals from the quake-hit nation's disaster zone.

The state-run China National Radio also reported that two ships able to transport a total of 4,000 people were on standby in the eastern city of Yantai and planned to sail on Wednesday to bring back Chinese citizens.

Beijing has begun helping its nationals leave disaster-hit areas in Japan, where a 9.0-magnitude quake and ensuing tsunami have left more than 10,000 dead or missing and triggered a crisis at a nuclear plant.

China Southern said it had added one flight each to the Japanese capital Tokyo and to Niigata on the country's west coast "to bring back affected nationals."

China Eastern, another state-owned airline, said it had added one flight to Japan, while flag carrier Air China said it was replacing some of its planes servicing Japanese routes with bigger models to accommodate demand.

Air China has cancelled several of its daily flights to and from Japan since the disaster struck on Friday, citing safety fears at Japanese airports.

A Chinese media report earlier said there were about 33,000 Chinese nationals living in five disaster-hit Japanese prefectures.

earlier related report
Japan ready to ask for US military help in nuclear crisis
Tokyo (AFP) March 16, 2011 - Japan is ready to seek cooperation with the US military as it battles to avert catastrophe at a stricken nuclear plant hit by fire and explosions as radiation levels spike, the government said Wednesday.

Asked if Japan is ready to seek assistance from the US military at the stricken Fukushima plant, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said: "US military cooperation is needed when necessary. They have already cooperated in providing logistic materials."

He added: "We are preparing ourselves" to arrange further cooperation.

earlier related report
China steps up radiation vigilance amid Japan crisis
Beijing (AFP) March 16, 2011 - Chinese authorities said Wednesday they were stepping up checks of incoming travellers and goods for possible radiation contamination as Japan's quake-triggered nuclear crisis escalated.

Border inspection authorities in Shanghai released a statement Wednesday saying they were checking all incoming travellers, luggage, and imports of food and other goods from Japan that enter the city's airport or port.

The nation's product safety agency issued a notice late Tuesday ordering authorities involved in inspection of incoming goods nationwide to "strengthen their analysis of the risk of radioactive material entering the country".

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine added that inspectors must "effectively perform the job of monitoring atomic and radioactive matter at ports".

The Fukushima nuclear facility on Japan's east coast has been hit by a series of explosions and fires since Friday's 9.0-magnitude quake and ensuing tsunami cut power to the plant and caused reactor fuel rods to heat up dangerously.

A fresh fire broke out at the plant early Wednesday, compounding the crisis. It was said to have been extinguished but a cloud of white smoke was later seen rising above the plant, the cause of which was not immediately known.

On Tuesday, radiation levels around the plant rose to dangerous levels before authorities said they later fell, but the situation has prompted concern in Japan and its neighbouring countries.

China's ministry of environmental protection has said it so far has not detected any abnormal radiation levels.

Weather authorities say radioactive particles from the plant should have no impact on the country over at least the next two days.

China has offered help in evacuating its citizens from disaster-hit areas in Japan, where more than 10,000 people are dead or missing.

Border inspection officials in Beijing said they were continuing to monitor incoming passengers at airports for radiation levels, but added this was routine even before Japan's disasters and they had not stepped up vigilance.

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