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Foreign Ministry activates plan to transfer Chileans from Japan

In order to continue to keep the national public informed on the situation of our fellow nationals in Japan, Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno updated information regarding their situation.

1.- Enquiries received

The total number of enquiries received until 4.00 pm today were 135, of which 126 have been responded, remaining 9 of them. All Chilean nationals located are in good conditions.

2.- Staff from the Chilean Embassy in Tokyo sent to the area of Sendai

With regard to the two envoys from our Embassy, First Secretary Bernardo del Picó and local official Mr. Sebastián Kinjo, we reiterate that they visited Sendai yesterday and established contact with students Ricardo and Simón García Coppa, who moved to Tokyo first and are currently in Osaka.

The group from our embassy headed today to the towns of Rikuzen Takata and Kesennuma but heavy snowfalls and travel difficulties prevented them from arriving to their destination. However, they are now 50 km from their destination and will resume their journey in the coming hours. As we have indicated before, we hope to locate Ms. Hortencia Vargas in Rikuzen Takata and Mrs. Sandra Medina and her son Takashi in Kesennuma.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the spirit of public service of these officials, who are carrying out a hard task under complex and difficult circumstances.

3.- Situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant

Unfortunately, the situation in the nuclear plant remains extremely perilous. Hence, the authorities have established an exclusion zone within a radius of 30km around the plant.

We therefore reiterate what we said yesterday, calling up all Chilean citizens to avoid travel to Japan, unless absolutely necessary.

With regard to the Chilean nationals located in the northern area of Tokyo, we advise them to withdraw from that area to southern cities in the island or eventually leave Japan. If our assistance is required for these purposes, we kindly request you to contact the Chilean Embassy in Japan at phones and e-mail addresses we have published in our website: www.minrel.gob.cl

4.- Chileans in Tokyo or in the southern area of the island

Bearing in mind what was mentioned about the serious emergency in the nuclear plant and before a possible detriment of its control, we advise Chileans living in Tokyo and Yokohama, whose presence is not indispensable in the area, to consider moving temporarily to the south of Japan or abroad.

5.- Activation of Emergency Plan

In order to be prepared to assist those fellow nationals who are in difficult conditions and who would like to leave the area of Tokyo or even Japan, the Crisis Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has activated a contingency plan for an eventual transfer of our fellow nationals who live in Tokyo and its surroundings.

In this regard I would like to inform on three options available:

a) Transfer towards the southern area of the island to the city of Osaka

Road and rail-based transport means are operating normally between Tokyo and the country’s southern area; it is therefore possible to make the transfer by these means.

However, we request those Chileans who are not able to afford the transfer charges to make contact with the Chilean Embassy in Japan or the Consulate of Chile in Tokyo so they can register and apply for assistance. The phones and e-mails can be found at the Foreign Ministry’s website: www.minrel.gob.cl

b) Return to Chile

For those Chileans who under the current circumstances had made the decision to abandon Japan and need to return to Chile, we have prepared, in conjunction with the Government of Colombia, the sending of a plane that will depart from Tokyo towards Bogota. From there, thanks to the cooperation of LAN airline, our fellow nationals will be transferred to Santiago.

Please note that we refer to limited spaces and, as previously stated, it does not entail an option of returning to Japan.  Those Chileans wishing to return in the future will have to do it on their own financial means.

In all cases, Chilean nationals requesting this service must register themselves as soon as possible in our Embassy to assess their situation, since the flight from Japan (via Colombia) to Santiago should occur before this weekend.

c) Departure towards Seoul, South Korea

This third option considered, to be activated if necessary, is particularly aimed at those Chileans wishing to leave temporarily Japan, as long as the emergency and uncertainty regarding the Fukushima nuclear plant remains. This alternative will also be available for Colombian citizens.

In this case, the Chilean government will airlift those fellow nationals who registered themselves previously at the Embassy and who cannot afford the transfer.

Their temporary accommodation in Seoul will also be paid by the Chilean government for those requiring it. We insist that it will be a temporary transfer and provided that general conditions make it advisable to leave Japan.

6.- Solidarity with the Japanese Government and People

During recent hours we have maintained permanent contact with our Ambassador in Japan and with authorities from that country, both to receive official information on the emergency progress in the nuclear plants and on measures taken by the Nipponese authorities.

A few moments ago we visited with President Piñera the Japanese Embassy in Santiago. There, we had the opportunity to convey to Ambassador Hayashi our solidarity and willingness to assist in any way possible the Japanese government and people.

As noted by President Piñera, '”every time Chile has been stricken by adversity, it has received the broad, prompt and generous help from the Japanese government” and therefore we reiterate Ambassador Hayashi that Chile wants to give back, and as soon as we receive requests for concrete, useful and specific assistance, we will send it immediately to help improve the situation that a large number of Japanese people are experiencing today.

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