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China Delivers Aid, Rescue Team to Haiti

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China sent an emergency rescue team Wednesday evening to quake-hit Haiti, where several thousands of lives may have been claimed.

Chinese leadership expressed sympathy with and deep condolence to the Haitian people for their loss in the strongest ever quake in about 200 years in the Caribbean islands country, with which China has no diplomatic relations.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have demanded the related Chinese government departments and rescue group to help uncover those being buried, protect Chinese nationals there and provide humanitarian aid.

China's Red Cross Society has decided to donate US$1 million of emergency aid to the country, which was hit Tuesday by the 7.3-magnitude earthquake at about 4:53 PM local time (2153 GMT).

The epicenter of the devastating quake was located under the sea, some 15 km southwest of the capital city Port-au-Prince, home to an estimated four million.

Power supplies were cut off and communications were interrupted as many buildings, including hospitals and the presidential compound, were damaged.

Eight of the 125 Chinese peace-keeping policemen, who were deployed there last June to safeguard social security, were also buried under debris, said a statement from the Chinese cabinet, the State Council.

A "massive number" of people of the United Nations mission, including the 9,000-strong multi-national peacekeeping mission, were still missing after the calamity, according to an anonymous UN official.

The Chinese rescue team took off from the Beijing International Airport at about 8:30 PM and is expected to arrive at Port-au-Prince after a 20-hour flight.

The team included search and rescue personnel and doctors, who have conducted many similar tasks in the past years, as well as three sniffer dogs.

"Most of the members are very experienced," said Liu Xiangyang, deputy chief of the National Earthquake Disaster Emergency Rescue Team, before their departure.

The team will also take some 10 tonnes of food, equipment and medicine on the special plane.

"We take limited equipment and personnel due to time deadline, limited capacity of transportation and long-distance," said Doctor Hou Shike, head of the medical group.

Chinese leaders are very concerned with the safety of Chinese nationals including peacekeepers, compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and overseas Chinese, said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu.

"We are in belief that the Haitian people, under the leadership of their government, will overcome difficulties and rebuild their homes at an early date with the help of the international community," Jiang said.

The Center for Consular Assistance and Protection under China's Foreign Ministry has opened its 24-hour consultation service.

China is also a major victim of earthquakes, including the May 12 quake that hit southwest China's Sichuan Province in 2008.

Via the Internet, Chinese netizens, prayed and expressed their condolence to the Haitian people, living on the other side of the globe.

"We are together, We are family," read one of the more than 8,000 comments posted on the popular website

(Xinhua News Agency January 14, 2009)