No Vietnamese confirmed dead in Japan earthquake

Vietnamese students and guest workers in Japan have been found safe after the biggest earth quake in Japan’s modern history and high wave tsunami hit the northeast region on March 11.

The Tokyo-based Vietnam News Agency correspondent reported that no name of Vietnamese nationals was included in the list of 564 deaths and over 1,000 missing announced by the Japanese Police Agency on March 12. Until now, no Vietnamese in Japan was reported dead in the most devastating disaster.

The President of the Vietnamese Youth and Students’ Association (VYSA) in Japan, Nguyen Ngoc Tu, said he had reached Hai Duong-born Dong Quang Diep, a student at the Tohoku University in Sendai city by paging on March 12. Sendal is capital of Miyagi prefecture, the hardest hit by the recent earthquake and tsunami.

He quoted Diep as saying that his Vietnamese fellows, estimated at between 30 and 40, were evacuated to shelters erected by the Sendai administration.

“It is lucky that the university is located in a high place so all the students are safe and no one was reported injury,” Diep was quoted as saying.

However, the power, water supply and gas systems in the region have not resumed operation.

The VYSA leader however expressed concerns over the fate of other students following education in provinces adjacent to Miyagi such as Aomori, Akita, Iwate and Fukushima, though in small numbers.

Four Vietnamese engineering interns working in a site about 30 minutes by tram to Sendai were reported safe in shelters. At the point the deadly quake occurred on March 11, these people were still at the workplace. They were immediately evacuated to the existing safe shelters, avoiding the workplace destruction by the disaster.

Relevant Vietnamese agencies are working hard to contact these workers to determine the number of Vietnamese workers evacuated to these shelters and the fate of others.

The Vietnamese Youth and Students’ Association (VYSA) in Japan plans to send a voluntary liaison team to Sendai city, Miyagi prefecture to study the situation of Vietnamese students in the northeastern province and surrounding areas, which were hard hit by the disaster.

According to VYSA, a hotline operated by the Dong Du Students Association, by Sunday morning, all Vietnamese students in northern prefectures and cities such as Nagano, Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa, Tochigi, Biigata, Akita, Iwate, Fukushima and Ibaraki were reported safe.

Families of Vietnamese residents in Japan can contact the Vietnamese Embassy for information via email www.vnembassyjp@gmail.com or access VYSA’s website at www.vysajp.org.

Statistics released by the Vietnamese embassy in Japan showed that some 31,000 Vietnamese nationals are living in Japan, including permanent residents. Of them, some 3,700 are students and almost 17,000 interns or apprentices.

Vietnam offers US$200,000 aid to Japan

The Vietnamese government on March 13 decided to offer a US$ 200,000 aid to the Japanese people.

On the same day, the Vietnamese Embassy in Japan convened an urgent meeting in Tokyo to discuss the situation of Vietnamese people in Japan after the catastrophe as well as measures to ensure their safety.

Speaking at the meeting, Vietnamese Ambassador to Japan Nguyen Phu Binh affirmed there was no report on casualties of Vietnamese nationals by that time. The embassy would continue collecting information on Vietnamese people in areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

The ambassador said he would send letters of condolences to the authorities and people in Japan ’s hardest-hit localities and at the same time asked local authorities to help Vietnamese citizens in their areas overcome the consequences of the disaster.

VN on alert for earthquakes, tsunamis and radioactive pollution

Vietnam is now on the watch for possible earthquakes and tsunamis because of similar recent disasters in China and Japan.

Le Huy Minh, Director of the Earthquake and Tsunami Warning Centre under the Vietnam Institute of Geophysics, said, due to geographical characteristics, the Vietnamese coastal areas are likely to be greatly affected by any tsunami in the East Sea area.

He added that, the waters to the north of the Philippines can pose the most danger to Vietnam because it would take around two hours for a tsunami to hit the central coastal areas of Vietnam from this area. In such a case, the coastal area in Danang City will be the hardest-hit.

Other areas, including Quang Ninh Province and Hai Phong City, may be less affected. These risks are forecast based on the institute’s 25 scenarios of tsunamis on the East Sea and Vietnamese beaches.

According to Minh, an earthquake that reached 4.7 on the Richter scale occurred off Vung Tau-Phan Thiet coast on March 6. However, it had almost no effect on the coast.

Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and Head of the Central Steering Board for Storm Prevention and Control, said the Government has issued regulations on earthquake and tsunami preparedness, but many localities are still not ready for any such event.

The People’s Committee of Da Nang City has approved the installation of 10 early tsunami warning stations. The stations, the first of their kind in Vietnam, are expected to help warn people in Da Nang of tsunamis from the East Sea 30 minutes in advance.

Nuclear power expert Nguyen Minh Tuan, who has worked in Japan and twice visited Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant No.1, said that Vietnam should activate its radioactive warning system to detect any radioactive materials that can be blown from Japan. He said that radioactive materials such as Cs137 and I131 could be blown thousands of km by wind from their original site.

Tuan said Vietnam’s radioactive warning and control system, which is well-equipped, should work at full speed to take samples to determine whether the country is being affected by the explosion at Fukushima.

Tuan, a specialist at the Da Lat Nuclear Research Institute, said he had asked the heads of the institute to take proper action.

A meltdown of the reactor core caused an explosion at Fukushima No. 1 Saturday, making it the worst accident in 50 years of Japan’s nuclear power history.

Hanoi issues earthquake safety plan

Soon after the 8.9 Richter scale earthquake followed by tsunami hit Japan yesterday, killing thousands of people, Hanoi authorities issued an earthquake safety and protection plan for the capital.

The plan includes earthquake warning, safety measures and consequence remedies.

The Hanoi People’s Committee asked all relevant agencies to provide basic knowledge of earthquakes to the public via mass media and warn residents to actively take safety measures upon receipt of earthquake alarm information.

Before constructing public works and multi-storey buildings, investors and contractors must take into account possible earthquake impacts to minimize damage in case of an earthquake.

Relevant agencies must make a list of weak-structured houses and prepare a plan to consolidate them.

The city’s Steering Board for Search and Rescue are required to prepare and carry out earthquake-response drills.

When an earthquake forecast is released, relevant agencies must make it known to the public via mass media as soon as possible and deploy plans to evacuate people who live in endangered areas to safe places.

All towns, districts and State agencies must establish their own steering board for earthquake safety and protection. In case of earthquake, all local authorities must mobilize all possible resources to cope with it, ensuring minimal damage in life and properties.