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Swiss embassy leaves Tokyo for Osaka amid nuclear fears

by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) March 20, 2011
Swiss authorities said Sunday their embassy in Tokyo will temporarily move to Osaka amid fears that wind changes could carry more radioactive particles from Japan's stricken nuclear plant to the capital.

"According to Swiss experts, the development of the situation of the damaged nuclear facilities in Fukushima is very uncertain," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"In addition, a change in wind direction is expected in coming hours, which could bring an increase in radioactivity rate to Tokyo.

"Due to the uncertain development of the situation in the agglomeration of Tokyo, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs has decided to temporarily transfer the Swiss embassy in Japan to Osaka," it said.

The ministry urged Swiss citizens to leave north-east Japan, where the damaged nuclear plan is located, as well as the greater Tokyo and Yokohama regions. It said it has booked all available seats aboard Swiss airlines' flights from Tokyo to Zurich between March 18 to 20 to bring citizens home.

Japanese workers have been struggling for the past week to bring down the temperatures and prevent a meltdown at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant, whose cooling system was damaged by a ferocious earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

Food contaminated with radiation has been found outside Japan -- where milk and spinach have already been tainted by a plume from Fukushima -- as Taiwan detected radioactivity in a batch of imported Japanese fava beans.

Traces of radioactive iodine has also been found in Tokyo tap water, fueling anxieties although authorities said there was no threat to health.

earlier related report
Norway tells citizens to leave Fukushima, Tokyo
Oslo (AFP) March 20, 2011 - Norway on Sunday urged its citizens within 80 kilometres (50 miles) of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to evacuate and told those in and north of Tokyo to consider leaving.

"Norwegians who are less than 80 kilometers away from the Fukushima power plant are encouraged to leave," the foreign ministry said, adding that the heightened warning was "related to the unclear situation at the nuclear plant and the possibility of further deterioration."

Norway also said its citizens in the Tohoku, Chubu and Kanto areas of Japan should consider leaving, stressing that Tokyo was part of the Kanto region.

"Iodine tablets are available to Norwegian citizens living in Japan and can be obtained by contacting the Norwegian embassy," the ministry said, adding that Norwegians travelling to Japan should take iodine before leaving.

Sweden, Denmark and Finland last week advised their citizens within 80 kilometers of Fukushima to leave, with Finland and Denmark also telling citizens to consider leaving Tokyo.

On Friday, Finland said it was transferring its embassy in Japan from the capital to Hiroshima, saying: "Prospects with regard to the security situation in Tokyo appear uncertain."

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority on Saturday advised Swedish citizens within 250 kilometers from the Fukushima plant to take iodine pills, saying that enough for all Swedes in Japan had been sent to the Swedish embassy.

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Radioactive traces found in Japan tap water
Osaka (AFP) March 20, 2011
Traces of radioactive substances have been detected in Japan's tap water following an emergency at a quake-hit nuclear plant, but are not a risk to human health, the government said Saturday. Abnormal levels of radioactive iodine were found in the water supply in Tokyo and also in Fukushima prefecture, home to the plant located some 250 kilometres (155 miles) northeast of the capital, offici ... read more

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