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All Finns in Japan Now Accounted For

The Finnish Foreign Ministry said on Monday morning that all of the 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.

Kaksi pelastustyöntekijää partioi Yamamotossa.
Kaksi pelastustyöntekijää partioi Yamamotossa, joka sijaitsee lähellä Sendain kaupunkia. Image: Kimimasa Mayama / EPA

A crisis centre set up by the Foreign Ministry and the Finnish Embassy in Tokyo has been making contact with the Finns known to have been in Japan when disaster struck on Friday.

Since not all travellers register with the embassy, the exact figure of Finnish nationals in the country is not known, but around 800 had registered.

Finpro (formerly the Finnish Foreign Trade Association) made contact by phone with three of its missing employees in the hardest-hit city of Sendai late Sunday.

They have been sheltering in the Finpro office in the port city since the start of the disaster. The three were reported to be in good condition, considering the circumstances, and they were trying to find a way to leave the area.

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

Finns in Japan were contacted by phone, text message, email and through social media. Embassy Press Officer Mikko Koivumaa noted 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.

Ambassador to Return Soon

Around 800 Finns had registered with the embassy, but there may also be others in the country.

Ambassador Jari Gustafsson considers it possible that there may have been Finns among the victims of the tsunami.

Gustafsson, who was in Finland when the earthquake struck, plans to return to Japan as soon as Tokyo Airport reopens. 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," he notes. "This is a huge blow to Japan."

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