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Help on the way to South Asia quake victims
Updated: 2005-10-09 16:10

Countries around the world were offering help and funds as well as sympathy to the victims of a major earthquake that rocked Pakistan, India and Afghanistan on Saturday morning.

A 49-member Japanese emergency rescue team left Sunday for Pakistan to help with relief efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale.

The team, formed by disaster rescue experts from firefighting, police and coast guard organizations, was sent at the request of the Pakistani government.

The Japan Red Cross Society separately said it will extend 15 million yen (133,000 US dollars) in aid to Pakistan and dispatch an advance medical team to Islamabad.

Turkey, a frequent victim of earthquakes, also offered aid to Pakistan. Two military planes carrying aid, doctors and rescue workers were sent to the calamity-striken areas in Pakistan on Sunday.

The European Union has earmarked up to three million euros (3.6million dollars) for the rescue effort.

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Saturday sent a message of condolences to his Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musharraf over the massive earthquake that caused heavy casualties and damages in the South Asian country.

Hu, on behalf of the Chinese government and people and in his own name, offered his condolences, through Musharraf, to the victims' families and the injured, and expressed deep grief over those who were killed in the disaster.

On the same day, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing also extended condolences to their Pakistani counterparts Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri over the deadly earthquake.

According to media reports, US President George W. Bush said help was on the way to victims of the quake.

"The people of the United States offer our deepest sympathies for the loss of life and destruction caused by the earthquake that struck outside of Islamabad," Bush said in a statement issued late Saturday by the White House.

"Our initial deployments of assistance are underway, and we stand ready to provide additional assistance as needed," Bush said.

Saddened by the loss of life and destruction, UN chief Kofi Annan said UN had also rushed an emergency team to Pakistan.

Several British search and rescue teams were expected to depart soon, while the French government said it would send a 25-member emergency rescue team, along with sniffer dogs and cutting material.

In a message of support to his Pakistan counterpart, French President Jacques Chirac pledged to "provide any assistance which Pakistan could need."

Pakistani Major General Shaukat Sultan said on Sunday that about 18,000 people were killed and 40,000 people injured in Saturday's strong earthquake, 17,000 people in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and 1,000 more in Punjab and North West Frontier province.

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