Get out of Tokyo, Kiwis told

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has upgraded its advice to New Zealand citizens in quake-devastated Japan, warning Kiwis to leave Tokyo and northern Honshu.

The advice has been upgraded since yesterday's warning that New Zealanders should "consider" leaving the affected areas.

"We advise against all non-essential travel to Tokyo and northern Honshu due to the ongoing risk of disruptions to essential services such as transport, communications, electric power and other infrastructure and the supply of goods and strong aftershocks," a release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) said.

"New Zealanders currently in Tokyo and northern Honshu are advised to leave either to other parts of Japan or destinations outside the country unless their presence is essential."

Japan is racing against the clock to prevent a nuclear crisis by cooling down overheated reactors in a nuclear power plant that was crippled by last Friday's massive 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their homes and at least 13,000 are reported dead after the 9.0-magnitude quake struck on Friday, followed by a massive tsunami that wiped out a number of villages and towns.

Meanwhile, New Zealander Peter Setter, who had not been heard from since the deadly earthquake and tsunami, made contact with his Hawke's Bay family yesterday.

MFAT said it now had no concerns for any New Zealanders in Japan and had no reports of New Zealand injuries or casualties.

So far, 2104 New Zealanders had been confirmed as safe and well in Japan.

MFAT also updated its advice to those living near the Fukushima nuclear power facility, 240km north of Tokyo, increasing the safety zone from the facility yesterday.

"As a precautionary measure New Zealanders who live within an 80km radius of the nuclear plant should leave," Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said.

The 80km is further than Japanese authorities are recommending to their own citizens.

New Zealand Ambassador in Japan Ian Kennedy said a "handful' of New Zealanders remained in the 80km zone.

The ministry was also looking at whether flights leaving the country were sufficient.

"If we do have a significant number of people looking to fly, are the available flights sufficient, do we need to do something more? All of those matters are on the table," Mr McCully said.

Meanwhile, a New Zealand woman has complained after she had to pay for an emergency passport to escape quake-devastated Japan.

Fane Walter, who was living in the coastal town of Tomioka, 5km from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, told Radio New Zealand the embassy in Japan was not very considerate after she was forced to flee.

"(the) New Zealand Embassy is not being very helpful, I had to pay for my own emergency passport to go home if I wanted to go. Not only that, I would also have to pay for a flight back home and we didn't even know if we were going to get paid this week."

However, Department of Internal Affairs spokesman Shawn Hollister told NZPA if it did not charge the fee it would be breaking the law.

"The process is the same for anybody, anywhere around the world, in any situation."

Legislatively there was no provision to waive fees from emergency travel documents, he said.

But people who had no money could work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to arrange an advancement on funds, on the provision that it would be paid back.

This was due to change though, with the Government currently in the process of passing legislation to waive urgent service fees for emergency travel documents in exceptional circumstances, Mr Hollister said.

But that would not come into effect until June.

"It just didn't happen fast enough for Japan."

- NZ Herald staff, NZPA

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