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Italian, Japanese Medics Get to Work

International quake-relief efforts have stepped up a gear with the arrival of two medical teams from Japan and Italy.

They said they want to work in the most needed areas and stay as close as possible to quake-hit villagers.

The 22-member Italian team, which arrived in the Sichuan capital Chengdu yesterday afternoon, includes seven doctors and six nurses, as well as pharmacists and liaison officers.

Dressed in bright orange uniforms, they brought with them a range of much-needed supplies including drugs and medical equipment.

A field hospital and tents will arrive from Italy in Chengdu tonight, after which the team will head to the hard-hit city of Mianzhu.

Group member Giorgio Cortassa, an Italian embassy official, said it was the first time Italy had sent such a medical team to China.

"All our team members are very experienced," he said.

"If possible, we would like to stay as close as possible to the affected villagers."

The team will also help train local medical staff how to use the field hospital, Cortassa said, adding that "it's very possible that all the equipment will be left as a gift to the disaster-stricken people if we get approval".

Peppe Zocco, another member of the team who was part of the 2004 tsunami medical relief efforts, said he was very glad to be in China so he could help the injured.

Also yesterday, medics from a 23-member Japanese team, which arrived on Tuesday, began visiting hospitals in Chengdu to appraise the condition of patients. The team brought medical equipment, including X-ray machines and blood testing equipment.

At the Chengdu No 1 People's Hospital, which is home to more than 200 quake victims, members of the Japanese team were keen to know what kind of injuries people had suffered, how many were awaiting surgery and what facilities the hospital had.

After learning most patients had suffered fractures, the team went to the orthopedics ward to see some of them.

Team leader Kazuhiro Tajiri said: "We've been told that about 30 patients are still waiting for operations, and we want to help.

"The whole point of us being here is to ease the suffering of as many people as possible."

Kenichiro Ogura, a doctor with the team, said: "What's most important is that we grasp what victims need."

Adding to the medical relief effort, a team from Germany is expected to arrive in Chengdu tomorrow, the provincial foreign affairs office said.

(Xinhua News Agency May 22, 2008)

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- Japan's Medical Team to Head for Quake-hit Areas
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- Relief Goods from Italy Arrive in Quake-hit Sichuan

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