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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, March 15, 2011
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Negrenses remaining in
Tokyo face power, food shortages

BY CARLA GOMEZ

Negrenses in Tokyo yesterday said they have not been instructed yet to leave Tokyo to escape radiation from a possible nuclear fallout, but they are facing power and food shortages.

Explosions have rocked two overheating reactors at the ageing Fukushima nuclear plant, located 250 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, after the cooling systems were knocked out by Friday's 8.9-magnitude quake.

The second hydrogen explosion in three days rocked the plant yesterday, sending a massive cloud of smoke into the air and injuring 11 workers. The blast was felt 40 kilometers away, but the plant's operator said the radiation levels at the affected unit were still within legal limits, international wire agencies reported.

Negrense Graci Horii, who heads the Philippine Tourism Office at the Embassy, told the DAILY STAR the transfer of the 62 Filipino embassy personnel in Tokyo, including those of attached agencies, to Osaka will be a last resort should the danger of a nuclear fallout at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant worsen.

Horii said, so far, no Filipinos have been reported injured in Japan’s disaster.

Horii also told Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. that Indonesia has ordered the pull-out of its embassy staff from Japan, the governor said yesterday.

Horii said there was a shortage of water, bread and noodles in Tokyo as people stocked up on food, he added.

She also informed the governor that there were a lot of undocumented Filipinos living in Sendai, nearly 200 miles north of Tokyo, that was the epicenter of the massive quake that struck Japan Friday.

The governor said Horii has called him several times to inform him of the situation in Japan but he could not call her. “They can call out but we cannot call in,” he said.

Eleanor Alonsagay Fukuda, a Negrense who is also in Japan, said yesterday that they were safe from nuclear radiation in Tokyo.

“We are all safe here. Tokyo is about 250 kilometers from the nuclear power plant. Evacuation is (for people living within) 20 kilometers from the plant,” she said.

The main concern in Tokyo now are power outages and food supply, she said.

Due to the closed main road to Tokyo, commodities from factories have less access to the city. Yesterday there was a shortage in rice, milk, bread, batteries, but the situation is temporary, Fukuda said.

The 400 skilled workers from Negros Occidental and 20 from Cagayan de Oro who are in Narita and Tokyo, Japan for training under the Negros Japan Human Resource Exchange Association Inc. are safe, NJHREAI vice president Leah Tinsay also assured again yesterday.

“Our call to all of our friends is to join us in prayers to thank our Father for keeping us safe from the unbelievablenear-death experiencethat touched our lives,” Tinsay, a Bacoleña, told the DAILY STAR.

“Many thanks for your sympathy, care and prayers for our safety whenJapanwas hit by a tsunami andthe killer quake. Itwas indeed scary as it rocked us exactly where we were standing. Luckily, there was the clearpresence of God,” she added.

Miraculously, for an earthquake that could bury the whole Tokyo to the ground as it was recorded to be one of the strongest earthquake in the history of the world, it left minimal damage to the city, she said.

“Although there were slivers of glass from cabinets, as well as books and computers flying inside our office, none of us were hurt.” she said.

She said the NJHREA workers at their job sites in Tokyo and Narita were all safe.*CPG

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