Obama on tsunami warning: Listen to local authorities.

President Obama stepped outside the Oval Office this afternoon to urge citizens to listen to local officials in light of today's tsunami warning.

President Obama gives a statement on the earthquake in Chile and urged citizens to take caution in light of today's tsunami warning. The president spoke outside of the Oval Office of the White House.

Pay attention to the local authorities was President Obama's main emphasis this afternoon when he spoke briefly outside the Oval Office to discuss the tsunami warning that's been issued for Hawaii, American Samoa, and Guam following today's massive earthquake in Chile.

Monitor reporter Pete Spotts tells us that the US is better prepared to forecast tsunamis now. Forecasting is one thing. Dealing with a tsunami is another.

So listen to the locals, Obama said.

"I urge citizens to listen closely to the instructions of local officials, who will have the full support of the federal government as they prepare for a potential tsunami, and recover from any damage that may be caused," he said.

"I also urge our citizens along the West Coast to be prepared as well, as there may be dangerous waves and currents throughout the day. Again, the most important thing that you can do is to carefully heed the instructions of your state and local officials," he added.

IN PICTURES: Images from the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile

As for the massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Chile early this morning, the president said help would be on the way.

"The United States stands ready to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts, and we have resources that are positioned to deploy should the Chilean government ask for our help," he said. "Chile is a close friend and partner of the United States, and I've reached out to President Bachelet to let her know that we will be there for her should the Chilean people need assistance, and our hearts go out to the families who may have lost loved ones."

Call with Chile's president

Obama spoke with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet as well, according to the White House press office.

They released this statement:

"This afternoon, President Obama spoke with President Michelle Bachelet to express his condolences for the losses Chile suffered as a result of this morning’s tragic earthquake.

"The President commended President Bachelet for the Chilean government’s response to the disaster and recognized Chile’s capacity and expertise in responding to earthquakes. He reiterated that the United States stands ready to assist the Chilean government’s rescue and recovery efforts.

"President Bachelet thanked President Obama for his call, and said that she would be in touch should Chile require any support."

IN PICTURES: Images from the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile


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