Concerned Canada stands behind devastated Japan
Published Friday, March 11, 2011 10:25PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 4:09AM EDT
Residents of Canada shared anxious moments with their counterparts in Japan on Friday after the island nation was struck by a massive earthquake and devastating tsunami.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper extended his "heartfelt condolences" to Japan as Ottawa reached out to any Canadians who have been affected by the natural disaster.
"Our thoughts and prayers go to all those who've been affected by this terrible earthquake and the tsunami that hit that country," Harper said during a press conference in Guelph, Ont.
"Our staff at the embassy of Canada in Tokyo is working with the Japanese authorities to determine if some Canadians have been injured in this earthquake or tsunami."
As news reports of the devastation poured in through the day, so did testimonials from Canadians living and travelling overseas.
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said there had been no reports of Canadian deaths or injuries as of Friday evening, Eastern Standard Time.
There are 1,512 Canadian citizens registered with the Canadian embassy in Japan and very few are registered in the affected area, according to Foreign Affairs spokesperson Priya Sinha.
However, there are an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Canadians in Japan.
Any Canadians in Japan needing emergency consular assistance can contact the Canadian embassy in Japan at 011-81-3-5412-6200, or can call collect to 613-944-2471 or 613-943-1055. An email can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a statement released just hours after the massive quake struck off Japan's northeast coast, DFAIT spokesperson Emmanuelle Lamoureux said Canadian officials are already working with local authorities there.
Consular staff, she added, "stands ready to provide consular assistance to Canadians as required."
Among the Canadians reported safe following the quake were at least two groups on Ontario high school students on March break vacations.
Twenty-three students and five chaperones from East Northumberland Secondary School in Brighton, Ont., were on a tour bus in Tokyo when the quake hit and managed to avoid injury.
"We have been able to get in contact with not only the students and they are absolutely safe," Greg Kidd, a spokesman for the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board told CTV.ca. "We are obviously extremely pleased that everyone is well and that the students seem to be in positive spirits."
A flight containing more than 40 students from Holy Trinity School in Richmond Hill, Ont., was diverted to Ibaraki airport and would be rerouted back to Canada at the earliest opportunity.
Considering the estimated 100,000 Canadians of Japanese descent, and the fact Japan is Canada's third-largest trading partner, Fife noted that local interest in the developments there is intense.
Anyone seeking information about Canadian friends of family now in Japan is asked to call DFAIT at 613-943-1055, or toll free within Canada at 1-800-387-3124.
With files from CTV Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife