Embassy: no plans to evacuate Japan Swedes

Sweden has no plans in place to follow France and evacuate nationals from earthquake-hit Japan.

“We maintain that it is the recommendations of the Japanese authorities that should apply. No immediately life-threatening emergency has occurred recently but there is obviously a grave concern,” Kaj Reinius at the Swedish embassy in Tokyo said on Wednesday.

Reinius told the TT news agency that Swedes currently residing in Japan have been in contact with the embassy to inquire as to evacuation plans.

“We have close contacts with Swedish authorities, who are experts in this field and this is a joint assessment,” he said.

When asked whether the conditions for organising an evacuation require a immediately life-threatening situation, Reinius replied:

“Yes exactly. And we can see that we have not yet reached that situation, and are naturally hopeful that the situation never occurs.”

The embassy has received staff reinforcements and according to Reinius is working around the clock. Among other requests, there are several parents who are now applying for passports for their children.

Many Swedes, just like other residents of Tokyo, are starting to feel the pinch of grocery and electricity shortages.

“It is pretty empty in the supermarkets, there are shortages of water and the electricity is subject to rationing on a regular basis,” said Reinius.

Sweden’s foreign ministry on Tuesday extended its warning against all non-essential travel to Tokyo and the regions of Kanto and Tohoku in north eastern Japan.

Aftershocks from the March 11th earthquake are still being felt in the city and other areas of the country, with some measuring as high as 6.0 on the Richter scale.

Figures are starting emerge over the number of fatalities caused by the earthquake and resultant tsunami.

The official death toll amounted to 3,676 people on Wednesday morning, with a further 7,843 listed as officially missing. Japanese authorities however fear that the total number of deaths may well far exceed 10,000.

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