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Japan quake and tsunami travel update

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11 March 2011

A tsunami warning has been issued across the entire Pacific region, including Hawaii, the west coast of the United States, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and South America.

Tokyo's Narita Airport is closed and British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have cancelled all flights to Tokyo. The bullet train service from Tokyo to northern Japan has been halted and train services across Japan are believed to be disrupted or suspended, including rapid transit in Tokyo.

Millions of commuters are stranded in Tokyo and there are reports of major damage across large areas of north-eastern Japan.

A British Airways plane heading for Tokyo's Haneda airport had pushed back off the stand at Heathrow today when the airline decided it would not be leaving. 

BA flights from Haneda and Narita to London are due to land back in the UK later today after leaving before the quake struck. A BA spokesman said: "We decided that we would not operate the Haneda-bound flight (BA007) as a precaution and have also cancelled our flight to Narita."

A Virgin spokeswoman told the Independent: "Narita is about one hour from central Tokyo and we've cancelled our flight VS900 and the return flight VS901 today."

Parts of northeast Japan, including the city of Sendai, are suffering disastrous flooding after the quake struck around 400km offshore at 1446 local time.

The quake has sparked fires in several areas including Tokyo, with at least 60 people reported dead. This number is likely to rise.

The US Geological Survey is describing the event as a 'mega-quake' and experts say the earthquake is the world's fifth strongest since 1900. Seismologists say it is the largest earthquake to hit Japan since records began more than 140 years ago.

It is is too early to know the full extent of the damage, but it is expected to be widespread. The Japanese government's top spokesman, Yukio Edano, said the country was sending troops to the quake-hit area to join relief efforts.

Japan has declared a 'nuclear emergency' as efforts to cool a reactor at a northern nuclear plant are 'not going as planned'.

The Financial Times says email has become Japan's main source of communication as phone lines are down across the country and the mobile phone network is severely limited. 

Wexas managing director, Steve Allen, said: "We have been contacting travellers currently in Japan and the Pacific region and those with bookings who are due to travel shortly.

"We are keen to ensure that our customers in the affected areas are aware of the situation, tuning into local news sources and taking any necessary steps to ensure their safety.

"Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the earthquake and resulting tsunami.

"This is a rapidly changing situation and we recommend that you contact us for the latest information about travel to and within the region."

The Foreign Office has set up a helpline for those concerned for friends and relatives in Japan: 020 7008 0000.

If you are scheduled to travel to Japan you are advised to check the status of your flight with you airline.

Wexas passengers travelling to affected areas will be contacted as soon as possible, but if you have any concerns regarding a forthcoming booking please call us.

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