The U.S. military is mobilizing humanitarian relief efforts in Japan, after the government there requested foreign assistance to help those in need following the devastating earthquake and tsunami.
The U.S. Navy says two helicopters delivered 680 kilograms of rice and bread to the town of Shiroishi in one of the hardest hit areas of eastern Japan. The food had been donated by the people of Ebina city, south of Tokyo.
At least three U.S. Navy ships, part of the USS Ronald Reagan strike group, are expected to arrive in Japan Sunday to assist in relief efforts. Several other ships stationed in Japan and other locations in the Pacific are also moving into position.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos said in a statement Saturday Japan's Self-Defense Forces are among the most "capable in the world" in dealing with disaster response. He said the U.S. military is prepared to augment their efforts.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Saturday he had talked by telephone to U.S. President Barack Obama and the leaders of at least 50 other countries about the situation. He said Japan is requesting help from all of them.
The Geneva-based U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says Japan approved the arrival of specialist teams from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States.
Britain's Foreign Office said Saturday that Japan had requested British help following the earthquake, but did not provide specific details.
Speaking at a news conference Friday, Mr. Obama said he was "heartbroken" by the tragedy in Japan and offered U.S. condolences to the Japanese people. His chief of staff Bill Daley woke him up at 4 a.m. Washington time to alert him to the disaster.
The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert advising Americans to avoid non-essential travel to Japan, saying there is a risk of strong aftershocks for weeks. It also said there were no reports of Americans killed or injured by the earthquake and tsunami.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the world is "shocked and saddened" by the destruction in Japan and pledged that the U.N. will do "anything and everything" it can to help.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.