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U.S. again warns Americans against travel to Japan

Reiterating a travel warning, the State Department urges U.S. citizens to avoid nonessential travel to Japan, and offers advice to those already there. About 1,300 American citizens are thought to be in the northeastern area that sustained the worst damage from last week's earthquake.

March 14, 2011|By Carol J. Williams | Los Angeles Times

The U.S. government reiterated a travel warning for Japan on Monday, urging Americans to avoid visits to the earthquake-stricken nation and providing guidance to the thousands of them living and working there in the midst of nationwide disruptions.

"The Department of State requests all non-essential official U.S. government personnel defer travel to Japan and also urges U.S. citizens to avoid tourism and non-essential travel to Japan at this time," said the message issued Monday from Washington. "Flights have resumed at all airports that were closed by the earthquake, with the exception of Sendai Airport in Miyagi prefecture, which remains flooded. "

However, air traffic continued to suffer delays, and most public transportation in Tokyo and other major cities has been substantially reduced by power shortages and damage to highways and rail lines, the U.S. government noted. In some of the hardest-hit areas, such as Iwate prefecture, highways are restricted to emergency vehicles only, the warning added.

Photos: Scenes of earthquake destruction

A notice issued by the U. S. Embassy in Tokyo said about 1,300 American citizens were thought to be in the northeastern area of Japan that sustained the worst damage from the 8.9-magnitude earthquake on Friday and the tsunami that followed. The area is now also beset with fears of a possible nuclear disaster because of quake-related damage to three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power complex.

"The U.S. Government and all necessary experts are fully engaged in analyzing the issues, including the Fukushima reactor issues, in close consultation with the Japanese Government," said the statement from U.S. Ambassador John V. Roos. He commended Japanese authorities for an effective and thorough disaster response and urged American travelers and residents in the affected areas to follow the instructions of Japanese civil defense directors.

The Japan Tourism Agency estimated that 4,900 foreign tourists were in the areas devastated by Friday's earthquake. The whereabouts and welfare of about 1,000 of them were still unknown late Monday, the Kyodo News agency reported.

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