Skip to main content

Pentagon clears exit of some military family members from Japan

From Chris Lawrence, CNN
The authorization applies to family members on the island of Honshu, site of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The authorization applies to family members on the island of Honshu, site of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
  • Pentagon OKs the departure of some family members of military service members
  • Order applies to relatives living on the island of Honshu, site of the damaged nuclear plant
  • The Pentagon has suspended all military family travel to Honshu

Tune in to "AC360" tonight at 10 ET as Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta report live from Japan on the quake and tsunami's catastrophic effects.

Washington (CNN) -- The Defense Department authorized the voluntary departure Thursday of some family members of U.S. military service members stationed in Japan.

The potential number of evacuees is "in the thousands," Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said.

Lapan said the authorization applies only to family members living on the island of Honshu -- site of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant -- and will not cover those who are simply visiting.

The Pentagon has suspended all military family travel to Honshu. Families already on the island, which is also called the mainland, can be reimbursed for their travel home, Lapan said.

No military families will be allowed to travel to the island until the voluntary evacuation order is lifted.

U.S. military personnel take precautions

The primary means of transporting family members back to the United States will be commercial aircraft, possibly including charter planes. If necessary, military aircraft will be used to fly the families back to America, Lapan said.

"It's all based on need," he said. "If there's a need for military air, it'll be there."

Approximately 200,000 people living within a 20-kilometer (12-mile) radius of the damaged nuclear plant have been evacuated. Those living 20 to 30 kilometers from the site have been told to remain inside. Authorities also have banned flights over the area.

Are you there? Share your photos and videos if you can do so safely.

Several countries, including the United States, have exercised greater caution, urging their citizens in Japan to evacuate or at least stay indoors if they live within 80 kilometers of the plant.

Part of complete coverage on
Wedding bells toll post-quake
One effect of Japan's deadly quake has been to remind many of the importance of family and to drive them to the altar.
Toyota makes drastic production cuts
Toyota has announced drastic production cuts due to difficulty in supplying parts following the earthquake in Japan.
Chernobyl's 25-year shadow
There's an eerie stillness about the desolate buildings and empty streets of Pripyat.
Inside evacuation 'ghost town'
A photographer documents the ghost town left behind by the nuclear crisis in Japan. What he found was a "time stop."
One month since the quake
Somber ceremonies mark one month since the earthquake and tsunami killed as many as 25,000 people.
First moments of a tsunami
Witnesses capture the very first moments of the devastating tsunami that struck Japan in March.
The 'nuclear renaissance' that wasn't
A month after a devastating earthquake sent a wall of water across the Japanese landscape, the global terrain of the atomic power industry has been forever altered.
Drone peers into damaged reactors
Engineers use a flying drone to peer into the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.