Department has no plans to evacuate Irish citizens
Published 18/03/2011 | 05:00
THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has "no plans" to evacuate Irish citizens from Japan despite its British and US counterparts starting airlifts today.
After a warning that the nuclear situation is deteriorating -- and amid growing queues at Toyko's airports -- both the British and American governments announced alternatives for their citizens unable to book seats on commercial flights.
These include charter flights to Hong Kong, as well as seats on commercial planes that the two governments have block-booked.
But the DFA said last night it was "not looking into that" at the moment, and its advice to Irish citizens remained the same, including warnings not to travel to areas near the damaged nuclear plants.
There were approximately 2,000 Irish citizens in Japan before the earthquake struck last week. None were injured.
"We're not giving out figures on how many have left as we have not been advising evacuation so we couldn't say with any accuracy," a DFA spokeswoman said last night. "The consular advice has not changed."
One Irish woman who did get out -- Hannah Leggett from Bray, Co Wicklow -- spoke of her luck in securing a flight home.
"All my friends are trying to leave and they can't get flights so I am so lucky to be home," the teacher said.
Most governments are now advising their citizens to consider leaving the country amid desperate attempts by the Japanese to prevent meltdown at the Fukushima plant.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand all advised citizens to follow the 50-mile exclusion guide. France, Germany and China were among countries that urged nationals to leave Japan.
A French government plane has already left Tokyo for Seoul in South Korea with 241 people on board, with another flight planned for French citizens wishing to leave Japan.
And two Czech military planes landed in Prague after evacuating 106 people from the country.
Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday Irish taxpayers are providing €1m in funding to help the Red Cross operation in earthquake-devastated Japan.