Thu, Mar 17, 2011 - Page 2 News List

JAPAN DISASTER: Moderate radiation detected in five people

NOT HARMFUL:Five returning passengers from Japan were allowed into the country after disposing of their clothes, taking a shower and putting on radiation suits

Staff Writer, with CNA

Passengers returning to Taiwan from Japan are tested for radiation at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday

Photo: CNA

Inspectors at two of the nation’s airports have detected five cases of abnormal levels of radiation on the clothes of travelers returning from Japan as at press time yesterday.

The level of contamination was moderate and not harmful, an atomic energy official said, adding that the five were allowed entry after disposing of their clothes, taking a shower and dressing up in radiation suits.

On Tuesday night, the Atomic Energy Council set up radioactivity checkpoints at the country’s main entry points in light of a potential widespread radiation release from the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan following Friday’s massive earthquake and the ensuing tsunami.

Travelers entering Taiwan via Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei International Airport and Kaohsiung International Airport have to pass through the checkpoints, the council said.

Because of the rising levels of radiation in suburban areas of Tokyo, there is a possibility that contamination will be detected on the clothes of people entering Taiwan from Tokyo and other parts of Japan, said Lee Jo-tsan (李若燦), head of the council’s Department of Radiation Protection.

In other news, the nation’s top two carriers, China Airlines (CAL) and EVA Air, posted regular passenger load factors yesterday amid speculation that all seats have been taken.

Although the booking status from yesterday’s flights departing from Tokyo to Taipei showed that they were full, the airlines said the load factor was only about 80 percent.

“We did experience some confusion over bookings, but we are not facing any seat shortages for the time being,” CAL spokesman Hamilton Liu (劉國芊) said.

China Airlines said it would not cut back on services between Taiwan and Japan in the near future.

However, other Taiwanese carriers said they were canceling several flights not only because of the impact of the disaster on airports in northeastern Japan, but also because of the drop in passenger numbers.

EVA Air announced late on Tuesday night that it was canceling one of its two flights a day to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport from yesterday to Sunday and five of six scheduled flights to Sapporo from yesterday to Monday.

The carrier also canceled about one-third of its flights to Tokyo’s Narita Airport before March 30 and all 38 flights to Sendai before June 30.

Another Taiwan-based airline, TransAsia Airways, said it was canceling all of its 27 scheduled chartered flights to Hokkaido until the end of next month, as well as all chartered flights to areas hardest hit by the natural disaster scheduled before the end of this month.

Of the canceled charters to northeastern Honshu, three were destined for Fukushima, three for Akita and two for Hanamaki in Iwate Prefecture.

According to the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission, there are currently about 30,000 Taiwanese nationals residing in Japan.

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