Thu, May 15, 2008 - Page 4 News List

China says thanks, but no thanks, to Aussie rescue team

AFP , SYDNEY

China has declined Australia's offer to provide an expert search and rescue team to help find survivors of a massive earthquake, citing logistical problems, an Australian official said yesterday.

“China responded today thanking Australia for the offer,” a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said. “The extreme challenges of transport and communication in the earthquake region mean that at this point the aid cannot be received.”

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Tuesday that he had offered assistance, including search and rescue capability, to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶).

The government’s disaster coordination body, Emergency Management Australia, had been on standby to send search and rescue personnel on a commercial flight to the area worst affected by the quake in the country’s southwest.

While it has kept the door open to foreign offers of help, China said on Tuesday that conditions were “not yet ripe” for international rescue workers to enter the country, citing damage to transport links in affected areas.

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