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China to evacuate citizens from Japan quake areas

China will evacuate citizens from areas worst affected by Japan's earthquake and subsequent damage to nuclear reactors, but has detected no abnormal radiation levels at home, the government said on Tuesday.

world Updated: Mar 15, 2011 15:16 IST

China will evacuate citizens from areas worst affected by Japan's earthquake and subsequent damage to nuclear reactors, but has detected no abnormal radiation levels at home, the government said on Tuesday.

China's embassy in Japan said it was organising the evacuation from parts of Japan worst affected by the quake and tsunami "owing to the seriousness of and uncertainty surrounding the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant at present".

"We hope our compatriots in the main disaster zones remain calm and listen to instructions," it said in a statement on its website (www.china-embassy.or.jp).

Radiation levels fell at Japan's quake-stricken nuclear power plant on the northeast coast, the Japanese government said on Tuesday, after an earlier spike in radiation.

"Our ministry will continue closely monitoring developments in the accident at the Fukushima Number One Plant, will strengthen monitoring for radiation, and will swiftly report information about this," said the nuclear safety agency of China's Ministry of Environmental Protection.

As of 10 am (0200GMT) on Tuesday, China's nuclear safety agency had detected no abnormal radiation, it said in the statement on its website (www.mep.gov.cn).

"Safety is the number one principle when it comes to operating our nuclear plants," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular news briefing, adding China's nuclear facilities were operating as normal.

Winds were expected to carry any radiation from Japan out over the Pacific Ocean and away from China for at least the next three days, the China Meteorological Administration said in a separate statement on its website (www.cma.gov.cn).

"We will experience no impact," it said.

Radiation levels in Russia's Far East rose slightly on Tuesday but stayed within normal levels, officials said.

China has sent rescuers and aid after the earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan last week. Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao have also expressed sympathy for the stricken country which has often had icy relations with Beijing.

"We are confident that they will be able to overcome these hardships, and China will provide more aid based on the needs of Japan," Jiang said.

China is Japan's biggest trade partner and a severe blow to the Japanese economy would also hurt China's exports.

Air China has cancelled flights from Beijing and Shanghai to Tokyo on Tuesday afternoon and in the evening, as well as some on Wednesday, according to the company's website (www.airchina.com.cn).

A company spokeswoman said they were aware of the radiation issue, but that was not the reason for the cancellations. The airline did not want aircraft remaining in Japan overnight, she added.

China has already begun shipping relief materials to Japan, and a team of 30 Chinese medics is also on standby to go if needed, state news agency Xinhua said.

The quake and tsunami, likely to have killed at least 10,000, could help salve some of the animosity over territory, military distrust and bitter wartime memories that have dogged ties between Asia's two biggest economies.

"What will Japan's disaster bring tomorrow? We don't know, but we are willing to pray and provide aid, along with other countries and peoples," Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily said in a commentary.

"To pray for people from a place that is not your home, is to pray for yourself; helping the victims to stand once again, is also helping yourself," it added.