The Jewish Federation of North America opened Friday an emergency relief fund to assist the victims of the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that swept over Japan.

"The Jewish Federations send our deepest sympathy to people affected by this terrible event," said Fred Zimmerman, chair of The Jewish Federations of North America’s Emergency Committee. “We are determined to provide emergency relief as quickly as possible and to work with our partners to provide support over the longer term as well.”

The Jewish Federations raise relief and emergency funds for victims of global natural disasters. In 2005, Jewish Federations raised nearly $30 million to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, and approximately $10 million for those affected by the tsunami in southern Asia in 2004.

The funds now raised will also help those in other potential disaster zones such as Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast.

Individuals interested in donating are encourage to visit the The Jewish Federations’ Japan, Hawaii and the Pacific Relief Fund online.

The devastating tsunami triggered by the biggest earthquake on record in Japan was expected to have claimed more than 1,000 lives along the northeastern coast after a wall of water swept away everything in its path.

Thousands of residents were evacuated from an area around a nuclear plant after radiation levels rose in the reactor, but there was no word on whether there had actually been a leak.

The unfolding disaster in the wake of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and 10-metre (33-feet) high tsunami prompted offers of help from dozens of countries.

China said rescuers were ready to help with quake relief while President Barack Obama told Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan the United State would assist in any way.