Apple CEO Steve Jobs has sent a message to Apple staff based in Japan promising that the company 'will do what we can' to help those affected by the natural disasters that struck the country last week.

The Macotakara website posted the contents of the email in which Jobs says: "Our hearts go out to you and your families."

Japan was struck by a 8.9 magnitude earthquake on Friday, followed by a devastating tsunami that wiped out many towns and villages on the north-eastern coast. An estimated 12,000 people have lost their lives and many thousands more have been left homeless.

Apple has been offering customers around the world the chance to donate to relief efforts via iTunes since news of the disaster broke.

Yesterday, Macworld reported that staff at an Apple Store in the affected area were providing help, support and shelter to local people affected.

The full text of the email, which according to Mac Rumours was sent to all Apple employees, is below.

"To Our Team in Japan,

We have all been following the unfolding disaster in Japan. Our hearts go out to you and your families, as well as all of your countrymen who have been touched by this tragedy.

If you need time or resources to visit or care for your families, please see HR and we will help you. If you are aware of any supplies that are needed, please also tell HR and we will do what we can to arrange delivery.

Again, our hearts go out to you during this unimaginable crisis.
Please stay safe.
Steve and the entire Executive Team"

The launch of the iPad 2 will be delayed in Japan because of the crisis, as Macworld reported earlier this week.

There are also concerns that the disaster could cause shortages of NAND flash memory, which may affect Apple's iPhone 5 production schedule.