President Barack Obama voiced condolences to Japan on Friday for the people who perished in a massive earthquake, saying the United States “stands ready to help” in any way it can.
At the same time, Mr. Obama said in a statement that his administration will “continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward” and he directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be ready to help if U.S. states or territories that are struck. Hawaii was being hit by massive waves early Friday.
The largest earthquake in Japan’s history - measured at a magnitude of 8.9 - pummelled the eastern coast of Japan on Friday, accompanied by a towering tsunami. At least 60 people were killed.
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.
Mr. Fugate urged people living in those areas to monitor their local news for instructions from their state and local officials, and evacuate if ordered to do so.
Mr. Obama’s chief of staff Bill Daley notified the president about the earthquake in Japan at 4 a.m. Washington time (0900 GMT). Mr. 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.”