The U.S. State Department said its first evacuation charter flight left Japan today with fewer than 100 people aboard.
The flight, bound for Taipei, was the first of several planned for family members and dependents of State Department personnel stationed in the northeastern region of Japan, which suffered major damage from an earthquake and tsunami.
One or two additional flights are likely tomorrow, Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy said at a briefing for reporters.
The department also has chartered 14 buses that are en route to the Sendai area for U.S. residents and tourists who wish to leave, Kennedy said. Those buses will take U.S. citizens to Tokyo for flights out of Japan.
There are an estimated 350,000 U.S. residents in Japan, including about 90,000 in the Tokyo area, Kennedy said.
All State Department personnel are expected to continue to report to work, he said.
The magnitude-9 earthquake that struck Japan March 11 caused a 7-meter (23-foot) tsunami that engulfed the northeast coast. More than 5,400 people have been confirmed dead, according to the National Police Agency.
There have been no reports of any American deaths, Kennedy said. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said there are no plans to move the U.S. embassy from Tokyo.
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