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Japan Notebook

Rescuers pull 70-year-old woman from her destroyed house

March 16, 2011

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TOKYO — Rescuers pulled a 70-year-old woman from her toppled home yesterday, four days after an earthquake-spurred tsunami tossed the house off its foundation in Japan’s northeast.

The rescues of Sai Abe and a younger man pulled from rubble elsewhere in the region were rare good news following Friday’s disaster that has left thousands missing.

Abe’s son said he had tried to save his mother but could not get her to flee her home in the port town of Otsuchi. His relief at her rescue, he said, was tempered by the fact that his father is still missing.

“I couldn’t lift her up, and she couldn’t escape because her legs are bad,’’ Hiromi Abe said on national television.

The woman was suffering from hypothermia and was sent to a hospital, but appeared to have no life-threatening injuries, said Yuko Kotani, a spokesman for Osaka fire department.

Another survivor, described as being in his 20s, was shown on television being pulled from a building farther down the coast in the city of Ishimaki after rescue workers heard him calling for help.

Conditions for those still alive in the rubble worsened as a cold front arrived yesterday.

— Associated Press

China evacuates citizens TOKYO — China became the first government to organize a mass evacuation of its citizens from Japan’s northeast yesterday, while other foreigners left the country following radiation leaks at an earthquake-damaged nuclear power plant.

Austria said it is moving its embassy from Tokyo to Osaka, 250 miles away, because of radiation concerns. France recommended that its citizens leave the Japanese capital, while the US government advised Americans to avoid travel to Japan.

China’s announcement came as Japan’s nuclear crisis took a dramatic turn following an explosion and a fire at reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi complex. Japanese authorities said the fire caused radiation to spew into the air and they told people living nearby to stay indoors.

The Chinese Embassy in Tokyo said on its website that it was preparing to send buses to remove its nationals from Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, and Iwate Prefectures, the hardest-hit provinces.

— Associated Press

US damage estimates rise SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Damage estimates increased for the two California harbors hardest hit by last week’s tsunami, while California’s Mendocino county declared a state of emergency yesterday because of extensive damage to its waterfront.

Lisa Ekers, port director, revised her estimate to $22.5 million in tsunami-related damage to Santa Cruz Harbor, up from $17 million, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.

Festival shifts focusWASHINGTON — Organizers of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington are urging people to donate to the American Red Cross for earthquake relief efforts in Japan ahead of the festival that honors US-Japanese relations. Festival spokeswoman Danielle Piacente said plans are to recognize the tsunami tragedy during the festival, which runs March 26 to April 10.

Organizers do not expect to have to replace any performers traveling from Japan.

— Associated Press

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