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First 300 Chinese evacuees arrive from Japan

NEARLY 300 Chinese nationals, including 12 babies, landed in Shanghai around noon yesterday after evacuating from disaster-hit Japan.

Looking tired, these evacuees, among them students, workers and newborn babies, felt relieved to come home after the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami devastated the northeast part of Japan and caused radiation leaks from a nuclear power plant.

"It's hard to describe my feeling right now," said Xu Shengchao after hugging his mother at the Pudong International Airport. "It's great to be back home," said the Zhejiang Province native.

Xu and other 297 Chinese flew by China Eastern Airlines and their flight was delayed for hours. They were the first group of Chinese to leave Fukushima and Sendai, the worst-hit areas of Japan, for home.

Some did not have big luggage as they fled for life and had stayed in shelters after the deadly earthquake and tsunami.
"We first hid under desk and then ran out to the playground. Everything shook around us," said one student surnamed Xu, who was studying in Sendai City.
A woman surnamed Li said she rushed to pick up her four4-year-old daughter in a kindergarten in Miyagi when the quake struck. The whole family returned safely yesterday.

The Chinese suffered food and water shortages but were able to communicate with their families.

"All I had for meal was a lump of rice with some salt on it and a ladle of water," said Chen Jianhua, who lived in Fukushima.
Xu said he was rationed a banana or orange as meal in the shelter. He later moved to Niigata with fellow students as the Sendai airport was damaged. Chen also joined other Chinese to go to Niigata, where they received help from the Chinese consulate and were able to board the plane on Wednesday.

Chinese airlines have added more flights to bring Chinese home. All Chinese tour groups traveling in Japan have returned. More than 3,000 Chinese in the affected areas have been evacuated to Niigata.

Since direct flights from Japan to China have been sold out, airlines are suggesting evacuees to fly to South Korea and make a transfer there.

Some Chinese chose ship voyage to come home. The Shanghai Port immigration police said a passenger liner carrying 90 Chinese and more than 20 Japanese docked at the city's Cruise Terminal near the Bund yesterday afternoon.

The passengers include more than 50 Chinese students, who just finished a short-term study program in Japan, and 30-plus Chinese who are settlers in Japan before the quake. For fear of nuclear pollution, they decided to return to China.

A Chinese acrobatic troupe on a performance tour to Nagoya, Japan also cancelled the show and came back with the ship.

Immigration police said another passenger liner from Japan was scheduled to dock on Sunday.


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