Obama: U.S. "stands ready to help" Japan

WASHINGTON - President Obama voiced condolences to Japan 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, Obama said in a statement that his administration will "continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward."

The Navy has ships all over the Pacific preparing to head for Japan or already steaming there, CBS News senior national security correspondent David Martin reports. The carrier George Washington is in Yokosuka but has not been told to deploy, probably because it is undergoing repairs. The carrier Reagan is en route but 28 hours away. Two amphibious ships - one in Japan and one in Malaysia - are also making preparations to get under way.

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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 of people were killed.

Obama said he has told the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be ready to assist Hawaii and any other U.S. states and territories that might be affected. He said he's 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."

Obama had earlier scheduled a White House news conference for late-morning Friday and was expected to discuss the situation in Japan at that time.

"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 Pentagon said earlier that the U.S. Pacific Command reported all American military personnel in Japan had been accounted for. Press secretary Geoff Morrell said there are no reports of injuries to U.S. personnel there or damage to U.S. installations or ships in the area.

Morrell, who is traveling with Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Brussels, said that Gates was briefed by Pacific Command officials Friday while he was attending a NATO meeting on the Afghanistan war.

Vice President Joe Biden, making a joint appearance 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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