Thursday, March 17, 2011

US charters planes to help its citizens leave Japan

State Department authorizes voluntary evacuations; U.S. military also drafting plans to enable dependents to leave.

The U.S. authorized the first evacuations of Americans out of Japan and warned U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to any part of the country as unpredictable weather and wind conditions risked spreading radioactive contamination.

The State Department said the government had chartered aircraft to help Americans leave Japan and had authorized the voluntary departure of family members of diplomatic staff in Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokohama — about 600 people.

Diplomatic dependents have not been ordered to leave, but the State Department will bear the expense of their transportation if they choose to go, NBC News reported.

Also, the U.S. military is drafting plans for voluntary evacuations of military families and dependents from several bases in Japan. NBC said the order to start the process had not been given yet, but was likely to come Thursday.

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