UN, U.S. Offer to Assist Earthquake-stricken Japan

Earthquake of magnitude 8.9 is country's biggest earthquake on record; Obama says Federal Emergency Management Agency is ready to aid Hawaii and West Coast states that could be hit by Pacific tsunamis.

The United Nations is ready to help Japan in any way necessary after the biggest earthquake on record rocked the country's northeast coast and triggered a tsunami wave, the UN chief said on Friday.

"The world is shocked and saddened by the images coming out of Japan this morning," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters. "We will do anything and everything we can at this very difficult time."

UN Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Barack Obama
AFP, Reuters

He added that the world body would be closely monitoring the aftershocks throughout the day and was prepared to provide any humanitarian assistance Japan would need.

President Barack Obama also assured earthquake-ravaged Japan Friday that the United States stands ready to help.

He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is ready to come to the aid of Hawaii and West Coast states that could be hit by Pacific tsunamis.

Obama said in a statement that his administration would continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward and he directed FEMA to mobilize.

FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said tsunami warnings and watches have been issued for the U.S. territories of Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, and coastal areas in Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington.

Obama's chief of staff Bill Daley notified the president about the earthquake in Japan at 4 a.m. Washington time. Obama said the U.S. is ready to support the Japanese people in this time of great trial.

The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable, he said, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy.

Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who have lost loved ones in the earthquake and tsunamis, Obama's statement said.

The president was expected to discuss the situation in Japan and on the West Coast during a White House news conference early Friday afternoon. In advance of the news conference, Obama talked by telephone to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

The Navy said Friday that the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which was in the Western Pacific, was preparing to respond if asked, and was moving toward Japan.