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President Benigno Aquino III urged Filipinos to remain calm in the wake of the massive earthquake in Japan but prepare for any damage that might be brought about by tsunamis expected to affect the eastern coast of the country.

"We ask for calm from our countrymen. Let us keep organized our actions and let us coordinate with the authorities," Aquino said at a press conference at his hotel suite. "Let us prepare for any damage that might be brought about by a tsunami in our communities."

Aquino said he had talked to the defense, transportation, science and technology, and executive secretaries. "I have instructed them to share with the public whatever information they can get," Aquino said. "They are currently meeting to discuss all the necessary steps. Let us take seriously their warnings and directives."

Aquino said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council will give the details on what steps the government has taken. "Our delegation will be returning home in a few hours. We pray that we will be able to avoid any damage," he added.

Aquino said that there were more than 1,000 Filipinos in Japan’s hardest-hit Miyagi prefecture. He said Philippine consular officials in Tokyo will immediately assist them once it is possible to go there.