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Obama offers quake-ravaged Japan any assistance needed

Speaking at a Washington news conference, President Obama says the U.S. is marshaling forces to help deal with the aftermath of the magnitude 8.9 earthquake in Japan. U.S. ships carrying aid are en route, and the Air Force has delivered coolant to a damaged nuclear plant.

March 11, 2011|By Carol J. Williams | Los Angeles Times
  • Waves slam the shore along Iwanuma in northern Japan. A magnitude 8.9 earthquake jolted Japan on Friday, unleashing a 13-foot-high tsunami that swept boats, cars and tons of debris miles inland.
Waves slam the shore along Iwanuma in northern Japan. A magnitude 8.9 earthquake… (Associated Press )

President Obama on Friday offered earthquake-ravaged Japan any assistance needed to cope with the massive 8.9 temblor that has devastated the Asian nation, including technical aid to cope with a damaged nuclear power plant that has led to the evacuation of thousands for fear of a radiation leakage.

U.S. Air Force planes have already delivered coolant to the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced.

Photos: Scenes from the earthquake

No radiation leakage has been detected, but pressure inside a reactor at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant rose after the cooling system was knocked out by the quake Friday afternoon Japan time, according to the plant's parent company, Tokyo Electric Power.

"Obviously we have to take all necessary precautions," Obama said at a Washington news conference at which he talked about assistance being provided to Japan.

Obama said the Defense Department was marshaling U.S. forces in the Pacific to deliver relief and help with evacuations. One U.S. aircraft carrier was already off the coast of Japan and another was en route to the disaster scene, the president said.

Videos of the earthquake

At least 45 countries have assembled relief teams, including 68 search-and-rescue operations, and were awaiting Japan's direction on where to deploy, said Elisabeth Byrs of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters that the world body was ready to help Japan in any way necessary, including humanitarian assistance, and was closely monitoring aftershocks throughout the day.

Photos: Scenes from the earthquake

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