Obama: Japan earthquake potentially ‘catastrophic’


Washington:  The United States moved to send aid to earthquake-ravaged Japan Friday, as the first waves from the resulting tsunami swamped Hawaii beaches and grazed the West Coast.

President Barack Obama huddled with senior advisers at the White House to discuss plans to assist Japan, as well as the U.S. states and territories that could be affected. The Pentagon ordered a number of U.S. military ships to move toward Japan, preparing to render aid and bring supplies if needed.

Obama said in an early morning statement that his administration would “continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward” and he directed FEMA to mobilise.

The largest earthquake in Japan’s history — measured at a magnitude of 8.9 — pummeled the eastern coast of Japan Friday, accompanied by a towering tsunami. Hundreds were dead or missing.

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.

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. And the Coast Guard said it was making preparations to provide support where necessary.

It said that Coast Guard cutter and aircraft crews were positioning themselves to be ready to conduct response and survey missions as soon as conditions allow.

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 Pentagon says the Japanese foreign minister has formally requested assistance from the United States in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami. Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said U.S. and Japanese officials are talking constantly to determine what is needed, but it could include food, water, shelter, and medical supplies. The ships also have medical facilities to treat injured

Lapan said the military is also preparing to offer aid to Hawaii and the West Coast, if needed.

Janice Jacobs, assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, told reporters on a conference call Friday that there have been no reports of Americans killed or injured in Japan. There were also no reports of damage to U.S. installations or ships in the area.

The State Department issued a travel alert, strongly urging U.S. citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Japan.

“Tokyo airports are currently closed,” it said. “Other airports in Japan may be closed or have restricted access. Public transportation, including trains and subways, are closed in the Tokyo area, and service has been interrupted in many other areas.”

“Strong aftershocks are likely for weeks,” the department said. It urged U.S. citizens currently in Japan to “contact family and friends in the United States to confirm their well-being at the earliest opportunity.”

Spokesman P.J. Crowley tweeted early Friday that ambassador John Roos “has moved our U.S. Embassy’s command center to an alternate location as a precaution, given the many aftershocks in Tokyo.”

“We have been watching a hopeful tsunami sweep across the Middle East. Now we are seeing a tsunami of a different kind sweep across Japan,” Crowley said.

At home, FEMA’s Fugate said that “our immediate priority is the safety of the people and communities in the affected areas.”

“FEMA is closely monitoring the affects of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Japan,” he said, “and through our regional offices in the West Coast and the Pacific area, we are in close contact and coordination with state and local officials and stand ready to support them in any way needed.”

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.

There were no reports of damage to the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which was in port in Japan. In Guam, the mooring lines of two US navy submarines broke free of the pier, but there was no damage and the ships were pushed back by tugs.

No ships have been moved as a result of the potential tsunami in Hawaii.

Vice President Joe Biden, making a joint appearance at a news conference in Chisinau, Moldova Friday with Prime Minister Vlad Filat, said “the thoughts and prayers of the American people” are with the Japanese, who he said had suffered through a “mega earthquake.”

“We, the United States, stand ready to do anything we can to help our Japanese friends as they deal with the aftermath of this tragedy,” Biden said.

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  1. J.J.John-Charles
    March 12, 2011

    Being a good talker behind a teleprompter, does not make you a good administrator.He had no managerial skills.Just two years as a senator.
    My first vote in the U.S. will be 2012 D.V.and it will be against the good talker.

    • mouth of the south
      March 13, 2011

      i wonder if he was the first n only to use a teleprompter,,, the teleprompter don’t make u a good orater,,, is either u have it or u don’t,,, jus 2 years as a senator n now he’s the prez,,,, dude must be very qualified aint it,,,, sarah palin is a governor don’t forget that,,,, does that mean she’s more worthy to be prez than bama,,,, smh tsk tsk tsk,,,, the things that ‘wise’ men say will baffle u

  2. mouth of the south
    March 12, 2011

    if that is not the best leader the u.s.a have seen then point me to the ‘best’,,,,, it’s so sad how obama is taking leaks for the actions of his predecessors etc,,,, fanatics always bringing up issues as to how the u.s.a want to take over the world n the oppression others suffer at their hands etc,,, if true none of these are at the request of mr obama,,, in fact since his rise to power more dictators around the world have lost power than in the 20 years before him n he’s just in for 2 years lol…… health reform,,, the economy doing baby steps,,, at least it’s better than going backwards,,, end of war in iraq,,, now if mr obama had send troops into libya then he’d be blasted for wanting the oil,,,, but now he is hesitating or planning properly he is being called a coward n weak,,,, i think admin should have posted the part when he was speaking on libya,,, could be in a seperate story knowing the quake has nothing to do with libya etc but at that news conference he did address this issue,,, unlike bush mr obama is leaving the fate in the hands of libyan people,,, so egypt can do it then so can libya,,, once ghadaffi don’t use severe force on his citizens,,, if ghadaffi does then they are gonna put a no-fly zone on libya’s airspace,,,,

  3. wow
    March 11, 2011

    it’s not because he’s weak. it’s because he is a muslim. but he’s keeping it a secret

    March 11, 2011

    Thanks Mr. President..but just a thought …who’s going to run to the US aid if the time comes!?

  5. Sewo is not of God!
    March 11, 2011

    Thanks Mr. President..but just a thought …who’s going to run to the US aid if the time comes!?

  6. justice
    March 11, 2011

    y wud u say that? explain 2 me

    • justice
      March 11, 2011

      question 2 wikileaks

    March 11, 2011


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