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“I need to make money, but life is more important,” said Kenichi Okajima, a Tokyo office worker.

He said he decided to leave work after seeing the latest explosion and the weather report that the winds from north to south could potentially blow radioactive materials to Tokyo.

He said he planned to take his family to the mountains of Toyama, west of the capital.

“We have small children, and we don’t want to take any chances about them getting radiation sickness,” he said.

A Shinkansen bullet train speeding west from Tokyo was packed on Tuesday afternoon with mothers and children fleeing the city to hotels or homes of relatives across Japan while their husbands continued to work in Tokyo.

Yuichiro Sakata, a student in Tokyo, said his parents in central Japan called him after they saw the TV reports of the third explosion Tuesday morning. He didn’t want to leave.

“They said to me, ‘Hurry up. You must come home right now.’”

Heeding warnings from the embassies of France, Germany, China and other countries, many foreigners boardedtrains and headed for airports across Japan because of “superlong lines” at Narita International Airport outside Tokyo, as one city resident said on Twitter.

While some foreigners vowed to stay in Tokyo and ride out the wave of fear, many foreigners with Japanese spouses and children opted to leave the city to save their children from the risk of thyroid cancer from overexposure to radiation.

Fred Varcoe, a professor and writer who lives with his Korean wife and daughter on the Chiba coast east of Tokyo, drove to escape to a hotel in Shimizu, near the Mount Fuji volcano about 60 miles west of Tokyo.

He said he was lucky to find an open gas station, amid reports of fuel shortages across the Tokyo area and the devastated prefectures of northern Honshu island.

South from Fukushima, radiation measured at 100 times the normal level in Ibaraki, a prefecture bordering Tokyo, Kyodo News reported, citing Japanese officials. About eight hours after the explosions, the U.N. weather agency said winds were blowing particles over the Pacific Ocean.