Tokyo airport resumes flights after quake

2011-03-11 15:28
Light aircraft and vehicles sit among the debris after they were swept away by a tsunami that struck Sendai Airport in northern Japan. (Kyodo News, AP)

Light aircraft and vehicles sit among the debris after they were swept away by a tsunami that struck Sendai Airport in northern Japan. (Kyodo News, AP)

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Tokyo - Tokyo's Narita Airport has partially resumed flights after closing following a huge 8.9-magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on Friday and triggered a devastating tsunami.

Officials from the airport said some departing flights were now taking off from the airport, but that it was not accepting arrivals following the worst quake in Japanese history.

Around 10 000 people were stranded at Narita, and 1 100 at Sendai Airport, which saw its runways submerged by sweeping black floodwaters when a 10m wave struck the coast.

Japan Airlines said the airports of Sendai, Narita, Iwate Hanamaki, Yamagata and Aomori were shut.

Japan's All Nippon Airways Co said 131 domestic and international flights were cancelled, grounding 32 700 passengers, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

US help

Transport ministry officials said the shutdowns were temporary steps except at Sendai, where runways will remain closed, Jiji press reported.

Officials of JAL and All Nippon Airways said all aircraft flying near or over Japan at the time of the jolt were confirmed safe, said Jiji.

All Tokyo area trains were halted, while the shinkansen bullet train service in the quake-torn areas has been suspended.

Meanwhile, Japan asked US forces stationed in the country for help in relief efforts.

Japan's new Foreign Minister Takeiaki Matsumoto, who took office this week, made the request to US Ambassador John Roos.

The United States, which occupied Japan after World War II and is now the country's main security ally, has almost 50 000 forces stationed in the country.

Many US bases are located on the far-southern island of Okinawa, far from the quake zone, while the US Seventh Fleet with an aircraft carrier battle group is located in a port south of Tokyo.

Read more on:    japan  |  natural disasters  |  air travel  |  earthquakes  |  japan earthquake

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