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India advises against travel to Japan, Indian family refuses to leave

Thursday March 17, 2011 09:17:43 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: An Indian family, located in the radiation exposure zone near Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant that is threatened with a meltdown, has refused to be evacuated from the area, even as the external affairs ministry here has asked Indian citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to Japan.

"We have located and spoken to the family. But, they are refusing to leave," Indian ambassador to Japan Alok Prasad told IANS. He said that the embassy had strongly advised them to leave due to danger of radiation exposure as noted in areas surrounding the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

The ambassador reiterated that all Indian nationals have been accounted for and were safe. "We have no other case of an Indian family stuck at any place... All are safe," he said.

The ministry said in a statement: "For the time being, non-essential travel to Japan may also be avoided."

The ministry and the Indian embassy have been monitoring the situation in Japan, and have been in touch with representatives of the 25,000-strong Indian community.

"All Indian nationals are reported to be safe and have been advised to take precautions suggested by the Japanese authorities from time to time," said the statement.

All nationals have been advised to take precautions suggested by the Japanese authorities.

Meanwhile, the 24-hour helpline at the Indian embassy has been getting a number of phone calls from Indians frantic to leave Japan.

As a result, Air India has introduced enhanced seat capacity for flights from Japan, with a bigger aircraft, a Boeing 747-400, deployed for the sector.

More than 900 Indians have come back on Air India flights since the earthquake and Tsunami hit Japan last Friday.

Besides the flight to Tokyo, Air India operates three flights a week to Osaka which will continue as per schedule.

In view of the natural disaster which struck the country, the airline has also decided to waive all penalties for re-booking, cancellations and refunds on all types of tickets for travel to and from Japan up to March 31.

A devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan March 11, damaging three nuclear reactors, leading to fears of a nuclear meltdown.

Japan has expressed "sincere appreciation" for India's assistance and solidarity by India. This was conveyed by Japanese State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Yutaka Banno, when Indian envoy handed over 25,000 blankets as relief material.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the Japanese embassy here Thursday, where he signed the condolence book. "The people of India share in the sorrow and grief of the people of Japan," he wrote.








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Picture of the Day

President of India Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil addressing at the inauguration of the National Festival of Tribal Dances, ‘PRAKRITI’, in New Delhi on March 16, 2011. Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Culture, Kum. Selja, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Kantilal Bhuria and Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Mahadev S. Khandela are also seen.

(Photo: Mukesh Kumar)



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