Japan sends plea for 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.
More than 68 search and rescue teams from 45 countries have offered aid to the stricken country.
At least four teams had been requested -- from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and the US -- said UN spokesman Elisabeth Byrs.
The Russian emergency services agency offered 40 people with three sniffer dogs, while Singapore had civil defence forces on standby and Poland offered firefighters.
China and Switzerland also offered rescue teams; while Britain, France and others said they were ready to offer whatever assistance was required.
"The world is shocked and saddened by the images coming out of Japan this morning," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in New York. "We will do anything and everything we can at this very difficult time."
The tsunami was initially said by the Red Cross to be higher than some of the Pacific islands that it could hit, but the agency later said that evacuations around the Pacific rim had worked well.