Japan requests foreign rescue teams

Japan has requested a limited number of foreign search and rescue teams to help with the aftermath of its major earthquake and tsunami, the United Nations said Friday.

More than 68 search and rescue teams from 45 countries have offered aid to Japan, which was hit by the earthquake and tsunami Friday in the northeast, it said.

"Japan has requested international search and rescue teams, but only a handful," Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said in Geneva.

At least four teams had been requested — from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States, Byrs said. Japan’s request was made before a strong quake with preliminary magnitude of 5.8 struck northwestern Japan early Saturday.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan Friday to offer to help "in any way possible," the Japanese Jiji agency reported.

"The United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial … The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy," Obama said in a statement.

Read the rest of the story: Japan requests foreign rescue teams, U.N. says | Reuters.

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