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Queen's message to quake-hit Japan

The Queen has sent a message of sympathy to the people of Japan following the massive earthquake which shook the country.

Her message came as Foreign Secretary William Hague said the UK could send humanitarian assistance and search and rescue teams to help with the aftermath of the quake, which measured 8.9 on the Richter scale and triggered tsunami waves around the Pacific.

Speaking in Whitehall after chairing a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergency response committee, Mr Hague said Britain is ready to send whatever help the Japanese authorities say they need over the coming days. There has so far been no confirmation of any British casualties from the earth tremor or the tsunami waves which it caused, said the Foreign Secretary.

The Foreign Office changed its travel advice for Japan. A spokesman said: "Following the tragic events in Japan, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all non-essential travel to Tokyo and the north-east of Japan, whilst we assess the damage caused."

In her message to Japan's Emperor Akihito, the Queen said: "I was saddened to hear of the tragic loss of life caused by the earthquake which has struck north east Japan.

"Prince Philip joins me in extending our heartfelt sympathy to your majesty and the people of Japan. Our prayers and thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the dreadful disaster."

Prime Minister David Cameron said the earthquake was a "terrible reminder of the destructive power of nature".

Speaking during a visit to Brussels for an EU summit, Mr Cameron said he had spoken to Mr Hague about Britain's contribution to the international response and what could be done to help British nationals caught up in the tragedy.

"We've made clear to the Japanese government that if they need any additional or specialist help, we stand ready to assist," he said.

"Of course, the British Embassy in Tokyo and our network of embassies around the Pacific region will give all the support that is needed to any affected British nationals. We will keep our response, and our support for Japan and the region, under close review in the coming days."


From Belfast Telegraph