SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church announced that "all missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving in Japan are safe and accounted for," following a massive, magnitude-8.9 earthquake that hit Friday off Japan's northeast coast that resulted in hundreds dead, hundreds more missing and towering tsunami waves rolling throughout the Pacific Ocean.

The church's headquarters in Salt Lake City issued the statement Saturday morning.

The churchs Public Affairs Department issued an earlier statement on its website:

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan following the recent devastating earthquake and tsunami.

There has been a high volume of inquiries concerning the safety of missionaries serving in the area. The most immediate information is that five of the six missions in Japan have reported all missionaries are accounted for and safe. However, all communications systems in the Sendai area are down. We have not been able to contact each missionary in that mission yet. We continue to work diligently to account for the missionaries in this area and will update information as we are able to do so.

Initial reports from missions in areas affected by tsunami activity show all missionaries are safe.

We are also assessing how the Church might help meet the needs of people affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

Called the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan in recorded history, the epicenter directly east from Sendai was offshore of Miyagi Prefecture, about 230 miles from Tokyo.