Burma 'radiation free', junta offers aid

The Burmese junta has offered $US100,000 in assistance to victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan as state media declares the country free of radiation.

The foreign ministry released a statement on radio yesterday dismissing fears of acid rain and claiming that it had detected no radioactive elements from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in northeastern Japan.

Panic following last week’s disaster, which triggered explosions in several reactors in the Fukushima plant, has spread to Russian and China where people are reportedly stocking up on iodine and face masks.

The foreign ministry said however that the Burmese embassy in Tokyo, which lies 230 miles from the quake’s epicentre off the coast of Honshu, had suffered minor damage but only closed for half a day.

More than 6,000 people have now been confirmed dead from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake, Japan’s worst on record and the world’s fourth strongest since 1900. Japan hasn’t experienced an earthquake that topped 8.0 on the Richter scale since 1854.

The Burmese state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said today that the government had handed over a $US100,000 cash donation to the Japanese ambassador to Burma, Takashi Saito, matching Washington’s initial donation through its Tokyo embassy.

As of 15 March, private donations to non-profit organisations working in Japan had totalled $US25 million. Numbers of large Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Sony and Toyota had pledged millions for the relief effort.

It remains unclear whether any Burmese are among the quake victims. Of the nearly 6,000 registered in the country, the vast majority live in Tokyo. One Burmese in the capital told DVB yesterday that numbers had applied for re-entry permits at Japanese immigration and attempting to leave the country.

Several governments, including Britain, France, Italy and Australia, have urged their citizens to leave Tokyo as warnings of a possible nuclear fallout continue to circulate.

The Japanese government said late last week that 2.6 million households are without electricity and nearly 3.2 million people are running out of gas supplies, while 1.4 million people have no access to water. Nearly 600,000 have been evacuated from the country. Those figures are likely to have risen since then.

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