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Chinese Medical Team, Supplies Leave for Haiti

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40-member Chinese medical care and epidemic prevention team left Beijing for Haiti on Sunday afternoon on a chartered flight, which also carried 20 tonnes of medical supplies, said the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).

The MOC said earlier in the day that China had decided to provide medical supplies worth 18 million yuan (US$2.64 million) in additional aid to quake-ravaged Haiti.

The 20-tonne medical supplies included medicines, hygiene equipment, medical devices and camping equipment, said the ministry in a statement.

Also onboard the plane would be four Chinese peace-keeping police officers, replacing the four who were killed in the earthquake. China maintains a 125-member peacekeeping force in Haiti.

The chartered flight was expected to arrive at Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince at 3:00 PM Monday local time.

The MOC statement also said the 40 medical personnel came from China's military medical system and 70 percent of them had participated in previous UN peacekeeping missions.

Many of them had been involved in the massive rescue mission after the deadly 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2008, which left about 87,000 people dead or missing, it said.

At the departure ceremony, Qian Lihua, director of the Ministry of Defense's foreign affairs office, said China was carrying out its responsibility as a UN Security Council member to help the Haitian people with concrete actions.

Qian said he expected the Chinese medical team to accomplish the mission in a professional manner by helping the Haitian people ward off threat of post-quake epidemic and reconstruct their homeland.

According to the MOC, with the 18 million yuan of additional aid, China has so far provided humanitarian aid worth 48 million yuan in materials and other supplies to Haiti, in addition to US$3.6 million in cash to the Caribbean country.

Apart from Sunday's delivery of medical aid, China had already provided several other major aids to Haiti, which was hit by a 7.3-magnitude earthquake on January 12 local time.

On January 13, the Red Cross Society of China announced US$1 million in emergency aid to Haiti.

On January 15, the Chinese government announced its decision to provide 30 million yuan worth of humanitarian emergency supplies to Haiti.

On January 21, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN Liu Zhenmin said China would contribute additional US$2.6 million in cash to Haiti.

(Xinhua News Agency January 25, 2009)