Israel sends aid for Chinese earthquake relief

Livni: "This is the minimum that the State of Israel can do in order to express the friendship between Israel and the Chinese people."

china 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
china 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Israel is sending disaster relief to China, the Foreign Ministry announced Sunday. Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said a plane was on the way to southern China carrying clothing, medical supplies, generators and tents for victims of the May 12 earthquake. Mekel estimated the shipment was worth $1.5 million and said it was due to arrive in China later Sunday. According to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, "This is the minimum that the State of Israel can do in order to express the friendship between Israel and the Chinese people." The earthquake left at least 55,000 people dead and an estimated 5 million homeless. Meanwhile, the Chinese government said that nearly 70 dams scarred by the force of the quake were in danger of bursting, as looming rains added to worries about relief efforts for millions of homeless survivors. The confirmed death toll from the May 12 quake rose to 62,664, with another 23,775 people missing, Cabinet spokesman Guo Weimin said. Premier Wen Jiabao has said the number of dead could surpass 80,000. A magnitude 5.8 aftershock rattled the quake area Sunday afternoon, the US Geological Survey said, causing office towers to sway in Beijing, 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) away. There was no immediate information on any new damage. The aftershock lasted about 20 seconds in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu. At one teahouse, customers scurried into an open courtyard. "It's scary, but we're getting used to it," said Mary Nong, a 46-year-old telephone company worker. State television reported that a survivor trapped by the initial quake was rescued alive Friday, more than 11 days after the disaster. Xiao Zhihu, an 80-year-old bedridden man, was found in Mianzhu north of Chengdu after being trapped in his collapsed house, the report said. He survived because his wife was able to get food to him through the rubble, but there were no further details given or a reason for the two-day delay in reporting the rescue. The Water Resources Ministry said in a statement Sunday that 69 dams in central Sichuan province were in danger of collapse. It did not give further details. The government had earlier said the quake affected 391 dams, mostly small structures. Sichuan is home to the world's largest water project, the Three Gorges dam, located about 350 miles east of the epicenter. Authorities have said it was not damaged in the quake. Meanwhile, the State Meteorological Bureau said Sunday that parts of Sichuan would suffer "heavy and even in some areas torrential rains" later Sunday and Monday, warning of possible mudslides. Some people paused Sunday to attend church almost two weeks after the quake hit. In Chengdu, worshippers gathered at the Ping'an Bridge Catholic church to say prayers for the victims. A collection plate was passed around, and people gave everything from a the equivalent of a few cents to 100 renminbi ($15) notes. One worshiper, 58-year-old retiree Liang Biqing, said the disaster had changed her views on China's place in the world and shown her that people globally all share the same troubles. "This shows that there are no barriers, no nationalities, when it comes to disasters," she said. China desperately needs tents to house quake victims, with more than 15 million homes destroyed in the disaster. The first of eight Russian military transport planes carrying tents, medicine and food landed Sunday in Chengdu, the country's ITAR-Tass news agency said. Other aid flights were expected to arrive by Monday. Sri Lanka has also sent tents, clothes and other relief materials, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Panda keepers at the Wolong Nature Reserve, a major breeding center for the endangered animals near the epicenter, said Sunday they had averted a food crisis. Fresh bamboo was being trucked in for the pandas, center official Zhou Xiaoping told Xinhua. "The road conditions are very bad and transportation takes much longer than normal. But thank goodness, the worst food crisis is almost over," Zhou said. Two pandas were still unaccounted for after the quake.