Entries in Closed (3)


Fukushima School in Limbo, Two Years After Nuclear Disaster

Akiko Fujita/ABC News(NAMIE, Japan) -- Two years since taking over at Ukedo Elementary School in the town of Namie, the 54-year-old school principal Michie Niikawa has yet to welcome her first class of students, greet teachers or visit classrooms.

Most days, she works in a cramped corner on the second floor of a prefabricated structure that houses city hall, 50 miles from the town.

The school's structure still stands along Namie's waterfront, inside the government mandated nuclear exclusion zone.

The school itself is a skeleton of the structure Niikawa remembers. Windows are smashed, classrooms cleared out. A graduation sign from March 11, the day the tsunami hit, still hangs above badly cracked floors in the school gym.

Like so many towns inside the 12-mile no-go zone, Namie was struck by a tragic trifecta: earthquake, tsunami, and radiation leak.

Ukedo Elementary's 92 students evacuated thinking they would return once the massive waves receded. But two years on, radiation fallout from the nuclear disaster has left them in perpetual limbo.

Town officials say there are some hot spots that are still four times the legal limit for nuclear workers in the United States. The officials have imposed a 10-year deadline to bring Namie back, but red tape has already stalled the nuclear decontamination process, delaying reconstruction.

Across Fukushima Prefecture, more than 8,000 students have moved outside the region, concerned about potential health risks, and frustrated by the slow pace of recovery, according to the board of education.

Niikawa is aware that declining enrollment could lead to the consolidation of schools and the loss of Ukedo Elementary school.

"If we just say good luck, you're on your own, they will never come back," she says. "If we continue to remind them of their hometown, maybe they will consider returning to Namie, one day."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


State Department Shuts Down Embassy in Central African Republic

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department announced on Thursday it temporarily closed the U.S. Embassy in the capital of Bangui, in the Central African Republic.  

According to a statement by State Department Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell, "The U.S. Embassy in Bangui temporarily suspended its operations on December 28 as a result of the present security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR).  We have not suspended diplomatic relations with the Central African Republic."

Ambassador Wohlers and all staff have left the country, and the State Department is warning American citizens not to travel to the country due to violence in the capital city.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Egypt: Pyramids, Tourist Attractions Closed; Economy Suffering

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(GIZA, Egypt) -- As protests continue for a third week in Egypt, tourism has come to a standstill in the country, leaving a gaping hole in the country's economy.

Popular tourist attractions like the ancient pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx have been closed off to people since the protests began for security reasons.  For many, like Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass, it is the first time in memory that these attractions have been blocked off from the public.

"I don't remember that this site was ever closed," Hawass said.

As a result, Egypt's economy, which depends heavily on tourism, is taking a toll.  It is estimated that one million tourists have fled Cairo since the protests began on Jan. 25.

"All the people who live around here, they depend on the lives of tourists," Hawass said.  "If there is no tourism, there is no food for the people."

Hawass said he hopes to reopen the tourist attractions in the next couple of days.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio