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International Aid Offered to China Earthquake Survivors


The international community is pledging aid packages for survivors of China's earthquake, which has killed more than 14,000 people and left tens of thousands of others in need of emergency aid. As Naomi Martig reports from Hong Kong, the southern Chinese city is spearheading a global relief drive.

More than $46 million in international aid is on its way to China to help with relief efforts following the earthquake that rocked southwestern Sichuan province on Monday. The death toll is expected to rise dramatically, as many thousands are still buried under rubble.

Hong Kong has taken the lead in organizing relief efforts to mainland China, pledging more than $38 million in aid to the central government. The territory's chief executive, Donald Tsang, says his government is sending a team of rescue workers to assist in hard-hit areas.

"Depending on the severity of the situation we may have to consider other measures as well," Tsang said.

China's neighbors are also helping. Japan has offered nearly $5 million in cash aid, blankets and tents. Taiwan is joining rescue efforts, South Korea has rescue workers and medical staff on standby, while Australia has offered search and rescue help.

Outside the region, the International Olympic Committee pledged $1 million. Wednesday in Beijing, the United States presented the International Federation of Red Cross and the Red Crescent Society of China with $500,000. Russia, Romania and international aid agencies are also providing assistance.

Francis Markus is spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Beijing. He says it is hard at this point to say whether the amount of aid pledged so far will be enough to ensure adequate relief efforts.

"The scale of this earthquake, this disaster has far surpassed many people's fears, and so no government can really sort of take care of all the aspects of problems which are going to be in place after a disaster like this," Markus said.

Carl Naucler, East Asia's managing director for the Red Cross, says the organization will make an initial appeal for $10 million on Thursday.

"We have, together with the Chinese Red Cross, teams in the area to do assessments," he explained, "and that is why our appeal will be a preliminary one, because we expect as we get more information, and perhaps we will be able then, when we know more, to adjust our appeal to the actual needs."

More than 50,000 troops have been sent to assist with relief work in quake-affected areas, but China has said conditions are not right for international teams to come in and help.

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