2 airlines to help evacuate Filipinos in Japan-A A +A
Saturday, March 19, 2011
MANILA -- Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific on Friday offered to assist the government in evacuating Filipinos out of the quake-hit Japan and carry emergency cargo shipments to Tokyo.
PAL president Jaime Bautista directed all stations throughout the flag carrier’s network of 20 domestic and 25 international points to accept emergency cargo shipments bound for Japan.
“This is part of our modest contribution to the international relief effort for the survivors of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami,” he said, adding that the transport will be on a “space-available basis.”
PAL said it will give priority to shipments organized by accredited charities, non-profit organizations, and reputable civic groups.
The donated cargo will be delivered to counterpart charity organizations in Japan. Shipments may also be consigned to PAL’s country manager in Japan, for distribution through PAL offices in the country.
Specific items eligible for free transport include medicines, flashlights, ropes for extrication and similar rescue devices, water purification tablets, new underwear, canned goods, and other packaged food products, among others.
Cebu Pacific, meanwhile, said it has received a request from the government to mount emergency flights to Japan and fetch Filipinos willing to be evacuated.
“Cebu Pacific is working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) of Japan in obtaining the permits and approval for the rescue flights to Japan,” said company vice president for marketing and distribution Candice Iyog.
Disqualified for free passage
Meantime, items that do not qualify for free passage under PAL’s offer are water and rice, which can be shipped more efficiently and economically through other modes of transport; used clothing and shoes for tropical climate; and handbags and fashion accessories.
PAL is the largest carrier operating between the Philippines and Japan, with 32 flights weekly between six points – daily from Manila to Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, five times weekly to Fukuoka, and six times weekly from Cebu to Tokyo.
Cebu Pacific operates a thrice-weekly service from Manila to Osaka.
In a related development, government scientists remained doubtful if harmful radiation from damaged nuclear plants in Fukushima, Japan would reach the Philippines.
Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) Director Alumanda de la Rosa said the wind has been blowing in an eastern direction since March 14.
“The public is advised not to be unduly alarmed by being exposed to radiation,” she said.
“This is a positive development. In Tokyo, there has been no significant change in radiation levels since yesterday (Thursday). They remain well below levels which are dangerous to human health,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a separate advisory.
Police authorities are monitoring the arrival of Japanese nationals in Cebu and other provinces in Central Visayas, in the wake of the nuclear disaster that hit Japan.
The regional police office in Central Visayas directed all police units to watch out for any Japanese arriving at the airport, who might be suffering from the effects of radiation.
The fear of radiation grips Asian countries in the aftermath of the explosions of nuclear power plants in Japan. The explosions came as result of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northern part of the country last week.
Since then, many Japanese who feared they might be exposed to radiation left their homes.
Supt. Tito Satera, deputy chief of the regional Police Community Relations, told reporters they already ordered tourist cops to report to the Bureau of Immigration and Department of Health if they notice a Japanese national with symptoms of radiation exposure.
A person exposed to radiation, according to a medical website, shows symptoms of nausea, vomiting, skin damage and diarrhea. These can start within minutes or days of the exposure.
The website said symptoms can be as severe as seizures, coma, destruction of bone marrow, internal bleeding and death, depending on the level of the radiation exposure.
Satera said his office has no figure of Japanese nationals who have arrived in Cebu after the quake.
Based on the PNRI’s monitoring, radiation levels in Metro Manila remained at a normal range of between 87 and 107 nanosieverts per hour.
Sievert is the unit that quantifies the amount of radiation absorbed by human tissues. One sievert is 1000 millisieverts (mSv) and humans normally receive about two millisieverts per year. (with Sun.Star Cebu/Sunnex)