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Irish rush to get out of Japan

IRISH people in Japan have been warned to leave Tokyo and the north east area of the country as radiation levels rise.

The travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs comes after three explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Irish universities have been making arrangements for their students to leave the country. DCU student Kate Anne Cosgrave said that other international students began to leave the area yesterday.

Kate, who is in her third year studying applied languages and intercultural, said there are serious food and water shortages in the capital and it is difficult to get water.

Meanwhile a Dublin mum has spoken of her relief as her son who works in Japan left for home today. Ski and snowboarding instructor Damien Rooney (29) left this morning after being told further radiation had escaped from the power plant.

Fears of a nuclear meltdown increased again after a second fire at the Fukushima plant led to radioactivity leaking from the facility this morning. Fifty workers who had remained at the station on the north east coast to control the situation were asked to withdraw after the surge in radiation. However, they later returned to the plant.


Damien's mother Rosemary (54) told the Herald that she was more concerned by her son's potential exposure to radioactivity than the earthquake.

"He rang me shortly after it happened around 6.30am here and he told me that there had been an earthquake and that he was fine," the Mulhuddart woman said.

"I didn't think much of it until I switched on the television and I realised what had happened and that I saw the tsunami. He had played it down to reassure me. I couldn't believe how bad it was."

Damien was working in Hakuba when he felt the Friday's tremors. On Saturday morning, he was warned of the initial damage to a power station in Fukushima, 230 miles north east of where he was staying.

"That's when he started thinking of going back home, experts were saying that the situation had been contained to a small area around the power plant but we didn't trust those reports," Rosemary said.

"A lot of his friends in Tokyo told him that they were heading south as a precaution and said that he should avoid the capital.

"He was supposed to go there to celebrate St Patrick's Day but he was told that the shops were getting short of food from fear that radioactivity may be heading that way.

"He couldn't get a direct flight to Ireland, he'll be going to London first -- he'll arrive today -- and he'll make his way to Dublin tomorrow."