All Finnish citizens who were in Japan on Friday when the country was hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami have been accounted for. A list maintained by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finnish citizens in Japan originally had more than 800 names, some of whom had actually left Japan before the disaster. The ministry says that all of the Finns that have been reached are doing well under the circumstances.
The Foreign Ministry was contacted by many Finns during the weekend who had not been able to reach their relatives in Japan. There had been no reports of Finns who might have been hurt in what has been called the worst disaster to hit Japan since the Second World War.
Three Finns were known to be in the city of Sendai, which was worst affected by the disaster. Two of them are employees of the Finnish export promotion organisation Finpro, and the third is the spouse of one of the other two.
All three spent their nights at the Finpro office, says the organisation’s spokeswoman Outi Torniainen.
Torniainen says that all three hope to travel to Tokyo by car on Monday. However, motorways are closed, and only small roads are available. The area is also affected by a growing shortage of fuel.
Local officials in Sendai gave people there instructions that were published on the city’s website on Sunday.
Residents were urged to avoid coastal areas in case of aftershocks and new tsunamis.
People left homeless have been brought to the city hall, and those taking refuge are being instructed to use disinfectant and to wear face masks.
Food and other aid supplies are arriving in the city, but are still in short supply. Shop owners are being urged to keep their businesses open. Many of the area’s hospitals appear to be operating, but residents are urged to avoid unnecessary visits.
Gas supplies have been cut off, and half a million households are without water.
The Finnish authorities were at pains to ascertain quickly the whereabouts of all Finnish citizens possibly in the region, not least in order to avoid the confusion that followed the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, when it was several days before it emerged that as many as 200 Finnish holidaymakers, most of them in the Thai resoort of Khao Lak, had lost their lives.
New procedures were put in place for contacting citizens abroad in time of crisis, after much criticism of handling of the disaster by Finnish officials.