Icelanders advised to leave Tokyo

The Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent out a statement requesting all Icelandic citizens leave the vicinity of Tokyo due to the uncertain status of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. Authorities in north-eastern Japan are struggling to cool damaged reactors at the plant.

The statement recommends Icelanders to postpone all but essential travel to Japan at the moment and to let the Ministry of Foreign Affairs know their plans if they do choose to go to the country.

The advice continues that citizens currently in Tokyo or further north in Japan should consider moving south until the situation becomes clearer. Icelandic citizens are, of course, being strongly advised not to enter the area nearest to Fukushima. Areas outside an 80 kilometre radius are not considered to pose any direct health threat.

There is no plan to evacuate Icelandic citizens from Japan and it is hoped such action will not prove necessary. The ministry is, however, monitoring the situation closely.

American nuclear experts are advising that the local threat caused by damage and malfunctions at the nuclear facility 200 km north of Tokyo is very serious. Military helicopters have been used to dowse reactor number three with water in an effort to cool it; but smoke and/or steam is still escaping. If the cooling operation fails, it is feared the fuel rods could melt, releasing large amounts of harmful radiation.

Unmanned drone aircraft are being used to photograph the site and monitor developments, reports.

Japanese authorities have confirmed that over 6,000 people died in the earthquake and tsunami which caused the damage to the nuclear power station; and also say that a further 10,000 people are still missing. Nearly half a million are sleeping rough in shelters set up in schools and sports halls.