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January 14, 2010

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China sends seasoned rescue team to lend hand

EIGHT members of China's United Nations peacekeeping force in Haiti were buried under rubble and more than 10 others are missing in the wake of the devastating earthquake.

There are 125 Chinese peacekeepers in Haiti, six of them women. They have lost contact with their base in China.

Ninety-six officers among the 125 are from south China's Yunnan Province, with others from all over the country.

The Red Cross Society of China decided to donate US$1 million in emergency aid to Haiti, a statement from the State Council, the nation's Cabinet, said yesterday.

China has sent a 60-member team to Haiti, expected to arrive early today, that includes medical staff, specialist earthquake rescuers and engineers.

Team members had conducted many rescue tasks of this kind and would take three snifferdogs, Liu Xiangyang, deputy chief of the National Earthquake Disaster Emergency Rescue Team, said at Beijing's Capital International Airport as they awaited a flight.

The team took food, equipment and medicine with them.

Former UN peacekeeping officers from Shanghai yesterday expressed their worries about colleagues in Haiti.

'Lost contact'

"I hope all my comrades are safe," said Tang Xiaoqing, a former UN police officer in Haiti.

"I saw the pictures online and I can't recognize the place any more after the earthquake," said Zhu Hua, another former peacekeeping officer. "I've lost contact with my colleagues there but hope they are all safe."

The Shanghai Public Security Bureau sent a team of 18 officers to keep peace in Haiti in the summer of 2008.

After 15 months of duty all of the officers came back to Shanghai last October.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu yesterday expressed China's sympathy to Haiti.

Chinese leaders were concerned over the safety of Chinese nationals, including peacekeepers, compatriots from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan and overseas Chinese, Jiang said.

"We 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," she said.

The Center for Consular Assistance and Protection under the Foreign Ministry would provide a 24-hour consultation and information service, Jiang said.

China does not have diplomatic ties with the Caribbean nation.


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