Around 40 Finns Still Unaccounted For in Japan

The Finnish Foreign Ministry said Sunday that most of the around 800 Finns in Japan when Friday’s earthquake and tsunami stuck have been located. None of those contacted by Finnish officials were injured in the disaster. Around 40 Finns in Japan were still unaccounted as of Sunday evening.

A crisis centre set up by the Foreign Ministry and the Finnish Embassy in Tokyo have been in touch with most of the Finns known to have been in Japan when disaster struck on Friday. As of Sunday, there was no indication that any Finns were killed or injured.

Since not all travellers register with the Embassy, the exact figure of Finnish nationals in the country is not known. It is also unknown if any Finns were in the worst affected areas.

Estimates of the number of Finns in Japan rose over the weekend as relatives of travellers contacted officials.

Most Finns in Japan have been contacted by phone, text message, email and through social media. Finnish Embassy Press Officer Mikko Koivumaa told YLE that telephone services in Japan were being re-established, easing communications.

The Foreign Ministry is urging Finns in Japan to follow instructions from Japanese authorities. The Embassy in Tokyo is providing information services via Facebook and Twitter.

Finland’s Ambassador to Japan, Jari Gustafsson, says that the Embassy’s main job now is to find all the Finnish nationals there as soon as possible.
“Possibly the best way is to follow Facebook and Twitter. We would be very happy if people would let us know, for example via Facebook, if they have been contacted by family members, friends and acquaintances in Japan,” Gustafsson told YLE.

Since roads, public transport and communications are functioning only sporadically and the telephone network is overburden, it may take several days before all the Finns are located. The Foreign Ministry is prepared to send more staff to the Embassy in Tokyo, if needed Ambassador Jari Gustafsson considers it possible that there may have been Finns among the victims of the tsunami.

“We can’t be lulled into the assumption that it couldn’t be so. But, we have no information that there were any Finns among the injured,” says Gustafsson.
Ambassador Gustafsson was in Finland when the earthquake struck and will be returning to Japan as soon as Tokyo airport is reopened. He says that anyone planning to go to Japan should consider it carefully, as aftershocks continue.

“Travel in Japan has been adversely affected by infrastructure damage. A period of mourning is beginning in Japan and travellers as well should respect that. This is a huge blow to Japan.”


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