U.S. begins evacuations of Americans in Japan - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

U.S. begins evacuations of Americans in Japan

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Fukushima Dai-chi Nuclear Plant; Photo Credit: Digital Globe Fukushima Dai-chi Nuclear Plant; Photo Credit: Digital Globe

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States has authorized the first evacuations of Americans out of Japan, amid a deepening nuclear crisis.

U.S. officials say planes will be brought in to help private American citizens wishing to leave.

The State Department is warning Americans to put off all non-essential travel to any part of Japan, because unpredictable weather and wind conditions risked spreading radioactive contamination from a crippled nuclear plant.

U.S. officials have already told Americans to stay out of a 50-mile zone around the damaged nuclear plant.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. is doing minute-by-minute analysis of the fast-moving situation.

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WASHINGTON (WKOW) -- The Obama administration authorized the first evacuations of Americans out of Japan.

Officials said they will charter aircraft to help U.S. citizens wishing to leave the earthquake and tsunami-ravaged country.  Many are hoping to escape elevated radiation levels in Japan.

The State Department late Wednesday issued a warning to Americans to avoid travel to Japan and said U.S. citizens in the country should consider leaving. Its authorized departure offers a voluntary evacuation to family members and dependents of U.S. personnel in Tokyo and Yokohama and affects some 600 people.

Senior State Department official Patrick Kennedy said the chartered planes would help private American citizens wishing to leave.

He said people faced less risk in southern Japan, but warned that changing weather and wind conditions could raise radiation levels elsewhere in the coming days.

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