The British government has offered Japan any assistance it may need after the massive earthquake and tsunami that smashed into the country, according to UK foreign secretary, William Hague.

Such help might include humanitarian assistance or search and rescue teams – including International Rescue Corps and Rapid UK, which are on standby.

While no British deaths have yet been reported in Japan, Hague indicated that UK embassy personnel in Japan are investigating.

According to BBC, more than 17,000 British citizens in Japan, while another 300,000 UK nationals visit the country annually.

Hague said his thoughts were with the people of Japan at this time. We are in contact with the Japanese government and I have asked our ambassador in Tokyo to offer all assistance we can as Japan responds to this terrible disaster. We are also working urgently to provide consular assistance to British Nationals. Our Embassy and Consulates-General across Japan are in touch with local authorities and making contact with British Nationals to provide consular assistance. “

The foreign secretary added: We have set up a crisis centre in the Foreign Office to co-ordinate our response and offer advice to anyone concerned about relatives or friends in Japan. We are not aware of any British casualties at this time.

The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra is reportedly safe as it travelled from Tokyo to Yokohama when the earthquake occurred.

Orchestra manager Fiona McIntosh described it as a terrifying experience to BBC.

“Initially, I didn't pay any attention as we've had earthquakes before - but this time, it went on for longer and there were several big aftershocks, one British expatriate who lives in Hokkaido told BBC.

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, who is in Brussels attending a crisis summit on Libya, said: We've had a terrible reminder of the destructive power of nature, and everyone should be thinking of that country and their people, and I've asked immediately that our government should look at what we can do to help.

He added: Everyone should be thinking of the country and its people and I have asked immediately that our Government look at what we can do to help.

Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth II has expressed her sadness at the tragic loss of life.