- Title: CHINA: Chinese flee Japan as nuclear crisis mounts
- Date: 17th March 2011
- Summary: BEIJING, CHINA (MARCH 16, 2011) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF GATE TO BEIJING CAPITAL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AEROPLANE DESCENDING PEOPLE LOOKING AT ARRIVAL BOARD ARRIVAL BOARD DISPLAYING FLIGHTS FROM OSAKA AND NAGOYA PEOPLE WAITING FOR ARRIVALS MAN LOOKING AND WAITING SIGN DISPLAYING WORDS 'ARRIVED' VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING THROUGH ARRIVAL DOORS (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE TRAVELLER FROM TOKYO LI XING SAYING: "When the earthquake first happened, in all honesty, I wasn't very worried because their (Japan's) housing structures were very strong. So I wasn't worried about the earthquake. But after the nuclear leaks, everyone's attitude changed. After the nuclear leaks people started to fly back, or travel down to the south of Japan."
- Embargoed: 1st April 2011 00:17
- Location: China, China
- Country: China
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes,Information
- Reuters ID: LVAAYRO6YN8AGSXO862PWYRVUPJY
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Hundreds of Chinese citizens, worried about radiation from damaged nuclear power plants, fled Japan on Wednesday (March 16).
There were at least 22,000 documented Chinese citizens in Japan when the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit last Friday (March 11), killing thousands and triggering a nuclear crisis.
China's foreign ministry issued a notice on Tuesday (March 15) stating that the Chinese embassy and consulates in Japan will use their greatest efforts to help their nationals leave the country, while urging others to avoid travelling to Japan's quake-hit regions.
More than ten flights from Japan landed at the Beijing Capital International Airport on Wednesday.
Although people were startled by the earthquake and tsunami, they were more fearful of the pending nuclear threat.
Beijing resident Li Xing had been conducting research in Tokyo before the earthquakes and says nuclear radiation fears forced her to return to China.
"When the earthquake first happened, in all honesty, I wasn't very worried because their (Japan's) housing structures were very strong. So I wasn't worried about the earthquake. But after the nuclear leaks, everyone's attitude changed. After the nuclear leaks people started to fly back, or travel down to the south of Japan," Li said.
Japan's nuclear crisis appeared to be spinning out of control on Wednesday, after workers withdrew briefly from a stricken power plant because of surging radiation levels. Efforts to avert a catastrophic meltdown quickly resumed.
Early in the day another fire broke out at the earthquake-crippled facility, which sent low levels of radiation wafting into Tokyo in the past 24 hours, triggering fears in the capital and international alarm.
The situation also led some Japanese to evacuate to China to seek safety for themselves and their families.
A Japanese family from the country's central Ishikawa sought refuge in China for a week to protect their infant child.
"We have a baby, so we think it's not safe to stay in Japan anymore, so we took her to China," said the unidentified businessman from Ishikawa.
As more and more people flee Japan's borders, major Chinese airlines have boosted their flights to increase their capacity to evacuate Chinese citizens in Japan.
However, purchasing tickets out of Japan remained a difficult task, with many people having to wait for weeks before they could leave the country.
"This week's tickets were really hard to get. Some people decided to take a bus to Osaka and then take a plane from there to go home. Because all of the tickets out of Tokyo were really hard to buy, the situation is like this, it's really difficult to get the tickets," said Tokyo-based businessman Shi Yixue.
More Chinese are expected to leave Japan in the next few days, according to state-run Xinhua news agency.
China's nuclear safety agency said on Tuesday (March 15) that it was closely monitoring development at Japan's earthquake-hit nuclear plant and had strengthened checks on radiation levels across the country.
As of 7:00 pm (1100GMT) on Wednesday, China's Ministry of Environmental Protection had detected no abnormal radiation.
Some Chinese food companies expecting to receive more orders from their Japanese clients have sped up their production, state television CCTV reported.
"We expect an increase of orders from our Japanese clients late this month or early next month. We are stocking up on our products. We will supply them to our Japanese clients first," said Zou Xiaoyong, president of a frozen foods company in eastern Zhejiang province.
Japan imports tons of canned and frozen food products from China every year.
Officials estimate Friday's earthquake and tsunami have killed at least 10,000 people, with thousands still missing.
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