A powerful 8.9 magnitude earthquake with a depth of 24.4 km, struck off the east coast of Honshu, Japan on March 11, 2011 at 14:46 local time. A series of significant aftershocks, ranging in size from 5.8 to 7.1 magnitude, have already struck the same area.

Officials at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada in Ottawa and at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo are closely monitoring the situation, are actively working to determine whether any Canadians have been injured in the earthquake or tsunami and to determine how best Canada might support Japan in responding to this disaster as needed.

Shortly after the earthquake, Prime Minster Harper spoke with Japan’s Ambassador to Canada to express condolences and to offer any support which the Government of Japan may require.

Canada is offering an array of expertise and technical assistance to the Government of Japan as part of international efforts to help Japan respond to and recover from the devastating earthquake.

These include a 17-member Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team, as well as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) technical expertise and equipment. Canada is offering Canadian Forces assets—including strategic airlift and personnel—to facilitate humanitarian relief efforts in addition to relief stocks, and emergency medical and engineering capabilities.

In total, some 13 Canadian federal departments and agencies are collaborating within Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada’s Task Force on Natural Disasters Abroad.
In addition, Canadian government officials have been in contact with the United Nations and the International Red Cross, as both organizations have dispatched disaster-assessment teams to Japan.

The Government of Canada is also working in close coordination with provincial and territorial authorities and stands ready to respond to other specific requests for assistance.
Canadians often feel strongly about helping to support communities affected by this tragic natural disaster. Often the best way to help is to donate money to experienced humanitarian organizations that are raising money to support relief efforts or that are active in the emergency response.

So far, the DFAIT Emergency Operation Centre has fielded more than 6,600 calls from Canadians concerning the earthquake. We are working closely with local authorities to identify Canadian citizens in need of assistance following the earthquake. Mission staff are ready to provide consular assistance as required.

There are currently more than 2,700 Canadian citizens registered with the Canadian embassy in Japan. Very few are registered in the affected area. There are an estimated 11,000 Canadians in Japan. We are aware of the death of one Canadian citizen as a result of the earthquake at this time.

Canadians who believe that they have Canadian friends or family who may be affected to call the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade at 613-944-2471 (613-943- 1055), or toll free within Canada at 1-800-606-5499 (or 1-800-387-3124), or email sos@international.gc.ca.
Canadians in the area should contact and reassure their loved ones, even if they have not been affected by this event. Canadians should register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service.

Canadian citizens in Japan requiring emergency consular assistance should contact the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo at 011-81-3-5412-6200, or call DFAIT’s Emergency Operations Centre collect at 613-944-2471 (or 613-996-8885). An email can also be sent to sos@international.gc.ca.

Canadians planning to travel to Japan are advised to confirm their travel arrangements with their airline, tour group, or travel agent before heading to the airport. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against non-essential travel to Tokyo and surrounding areas, as well as the prefectures of Chiba, Miyagi, Ibaraki, Iwate, Aomori and Fukushima, due to damages caused by the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunamis. Sendai City, Fukushima City and Aomori City have been hardest hit.
The Government of Canada extends its condolences to all those affected by this significant natural disaster.