WRAPUP 4-U.S. shows growing alarm over Japan nuclear crisis

Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:22am GMT

* U.S. sets wider evacuation zone than Japanese

* U.S. embassy families allowed to leave

* Relies on its own detection equipment

* Warnings of risk to emergency workers (Adds Obama-Kan call, report on projected path of radiation)

By Jeff Mason and Tom Doggett

WASHINGTON, March 16 (Reuters) - The United States showed increasing alarm about Japan's nuclear crisis on Wednesday and urged its citizens to stay clear of an earthquake-crippled power plant, going further in its warnings than Japan itself.

The State Department said the United States has chartered aircraft to help Americans leave Japan and had authorized the voluntary departure of family members of diplomatic staff in Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokohama -- about 600 people.

"The State Department strongly urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Japan at this time and those in Japan should consider departing," it said.

As operators of the Fukushima plant tried to douse overheating reactors, U.S. officials warned about the risks of getting anywhere near the area and relied on their own officials for details about the danger.   Continued...

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