Russia is ready to provide humanitarian aid to Japan, which was hit by a powerful earthquake earlier on Friday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said.
"We are certainly ready to help our neighbors in tackling the consequences of this earthquake," Medvedev said, speaking during a State Council meeting in the southern Siberian Khakasia region.
At least 23 people were killed when the 8.9-magnitude quake struck about 373 kilometers from Tokyo, followed by another 7.1 quake. The death toll is expected to rise.
The quakes sparked a tsunami that hit the Miyagi and Iwate prefectures on Japan's largest Honshu Island, sweeping away houses and cars.
More earthquakes measuring over 7.0 on the Richter scale could occur in and around Japan within a month, the Kyodo news agency quoted the country's National Meteorological Administration as saying.
An oil store in Chiba, near Tokyo, ignited as a result of the tremor, with 30-meter plume of smoke billowing into the sky. North-east Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant performed an emergency shut-down following the earthquake, the Kyodo news agency said.
In his televised address to the nation, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered emergencies services to "take all efforts quickly and effectively to eliminate the consequences of the earthquake."
Japan has been hit by a series of earthquakes in the past few days, including a 7.3-magnitude quake that occurred off Japan's northeastern coast on Wednesday.
MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti)