Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama said the United States "stands ready to help the Japanese people" slammed by a destructive tsunami.
In a statement issued Friday, Obama said he instructed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be prepared to help Hawaii and other U.S. regions "that could be affected" by the disaster.
"Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who have lost loved ones in the earthquake and tsunamis," said Obama, informed of the development by his chief of staff, William Daley, at 4 a.m. ET.
"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 unshakable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy," Obama said.
Obama said the United States will "closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific" and is asking citizens in affected regions to heed to their state and local officials.