Britons not traced since Japan tragedy

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The Government is "very concerned" about the safety of a small number of Britons who have still not been traced following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne told MPs 970 people who were reported missing had been confirmed safe and to date there were no confirmed fatalities.

But he said "every effort" was being made to track down the remaining Britons missing since the March 11 tragedy.

In a statement to MPs he said: "As of March 27 we have received over 9,000 calls to our helpline and can confirm that some 970 people reported to our missing persons hotline have been confirmed safe.

"There are to date no confirmed British fatalities. We continue to work to locate British nationals whom we have been unable to contact.

"There are now a small number about whom we remain very concerned. We are making every effort to track them down.

"It is important to stress that in these difficult circumstances, it is likely to take some time for the Japanese authorities formally to identify those who may have lost their lives or been injured and to notify next of kin."

Mr Browne said events at the Fukushima nuclear plant had caused "serious concern".

Earlier this month the Government advised British nationals in Tokyo and north east Japan to consider leaving the area and began issuing iodine tablets.

Officials also advised Britons to stay at least 80km away from the Fukushima plant.

But Mr Browne said even in "a worst case scenario" risks to human health could be managed by taking precautions such as remaining indoors.

He said: "The Government Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA) and the Scientific Advisory Group in Emergencies (Sage) have been engaged in detailed scenario planning for dealing with the ongoing events and we have contingency plans in place.

"The CSA has briefed the British community in Japan three times by telephone conference.

"Even in a worst case scenario, Sage's advice is that the risks to human health beyond the exclusion zone set by the Japanese authorities could be managed by precautionary measures, in particular staying indoors to avoid exposure."