The first US-chartered flights carrying American citizens has left Japan for Taiwan days after a catastrophic tsunmi and earthquake rocked Japan, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy confirmed Thursday.
The plane left from Tokyo to Taipei with fewer than 100 people on board. At least one other aircraft will be ready to carry more US citizens on Friday.
“It left about four hours ago and it’s en route to Taipei … the flight did not leave full,” Kennedy said at a press briefing.
He said the passengers included family members of US government employees and a small number of private US citizens who have chosen to depart Japan due to the ongoing nuclear crisis around a damaged nuclear plant.
Kennedy said the State Department is also trying to help relocate American citizens within 50 miles of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. However, Embassy, consulate and other US government operations are unaffected by the action, he stressed.
Earlier Thursday, the Pentagon authorized families of US troops and civilian employees stationed on th Japanese main island of Honshu to leave, a day after State Department authorized the same for its employees.