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South Korea to send rescue team to Japan after earthquake

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South Korea plans to send a rescue team to Japan after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake that shook buildings in Tokyo and sent waves crashing through towns along the northeastern coast, the foreign ministry said today.

A 40-member team is on standby to be dispatched, the ministry in Seoul said in a statement on its website. South Korea plans to do “everything it can” to help with rescue operations in Japan, ministry spokesman Cho Byung Jae told reporters.

South Korea’s consulate in Sendai, a city north of Tokyo that’s been affected by the temblor, has set up an emergency task force to assess any injuries and impact to more than 11,000 of its nationals staying in the area, the statement said.

The nation is unlikely to be directly affected by the quake, which has put many countries around the Pacific Ocean on alert for a possible tsunami, the Korea Meteorological Administration said on its website.

South Korea has also set up a team to monitor the disaster’s possible impact on its economy and financial sector, the Financial Supervisory Service said in an e-mailed statement. A separate task force will monitor the impact on its industries and trade, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in an e-mailed statement.

Korean Airlines Co. and Asiana Airlines, South Korea’s two largest carriers, suspended flights to Tokyo. LG Electronics Inc., the world’s third-largest maker of mobile phones, has evacuated about 100 employees at its Japan unit to a shelter, Sally Lee, a spokeswoman at the Seoul-based company, said by telephone, adding no damage has been reported.

Hanjin Shipping Co., South Korea’s largest container line, said it is considering whether to divert a ship due to the dock in Tokyo tomorrow, spokeswoman Sonya Cho said by phone from Seoul.

Posco, the world’s third-biggest steelmaker by output, said it hasn’t had any damage at its processing plants in Japan.

With assistance from Jun Yang, Sungwoo Park, Seonjin Cha and Shinhye Kang in Seoul.

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