World leaders offer condolences to quake victims

(Xinhua)
Updated: 2008-05-13 01:18

BEIJING -- Foreign countries and organizations on Monday offered condolences and sympathy to China after a major earthquake hit the country's southwestern Sichuan province and claimed thousands of lives.

US President George W. Bush extended Monday his condolences to China over the earthquake.

"I extend my condolences to those injured and to the families of the victims of today's earthquake in China's Sichuan Province. I am particularly saddened by the number of students and children affected by this tragedy," President Bush said in a statement.

"The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the Chinese people, especially those directly affected. The United States stands ready to help in any way possible," he said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday expressed sadness and sympathy for the victims of an earthquake that hit southwest China earlier Monday.

"I want to ... express my sadness and sympathy for the victims of today's earthquake in southwest China," Ban told a press conference. "We do not yet know the extent of the tragedy, but you have seen the reports of the hundreds of students trapped at a local university and potentially many others are dead."

The European Commission said in a news release that it was closely monitoring the situation in the Sichuan province in China.

Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said, "The initial news from Sichuan is worrying."

"Actual information is very sketchy but it seems likely that the quake has caused substantial damage over a considerable area, and there are already reports of some loss of life," he said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in a condolences message to his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, "Accept my sincere and profound condolences in connection with the May 12 earthquake in the Sichuan province."

Medvedev asked the Chinese leader to convey his words of solace to the relatives and friends of those who were killed in the quake and wished speedy recovery to survivors.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday sent her condolences to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao over the heavy loss of life in the powerful earthquake.

In an official statement, Merkel said the German government was ready to provide speedy assistance for China.

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda extended his condolences Monday to the quake-affected people in Sichuan, hoping that they could resume their normal lives and reconstruct their homes soon.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini felt deep sorrow over the disaster to strike the Chinese people and government and expressed sympathy for the families of the victims.

Other foreign leaders including German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte and Russian Ambassador to China Sergei Razov also extended their condolences and sympathy to China over the quake.

The earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale, rocked southwest China Monday afternoon. The death toll from the earthquake in Sichuan province alone has climbed to 8,533, according to local authorities.



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