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China to Airlift Aid to Tsunami-struck Countries

China will airlift emergency aid to the earthquake and tsunami-struck countries in South and Southeast Asia, Premier Wen Jiabao said Monday.

Premier Wen extended sincere condolences on behalf of the Chinese government to the effected countries by calling leaders of those countries, including Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Myanmar Prime Minister Soe Win.

"The Chinese government and people are sympathetic with friendly neighboring countries and people," Wen said, expressing China' s willingness to offer the possible support and help to relieve the disaster.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Finance are working to carry out the aid provision work.

The earthquake, with a magnitude of 8.7 according to the China Earthquake Administration, hit at 6:58 am (00:58 GMT) Sunday off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The tsunamis swept across the Indian Ocean hours later without any warning. In some areas, walls of water up to 10 meters high uprooted and swept away anything they met.

The death toll is being reported at more than 20,000, and is still rising.

(Xinhua News Agency December 28, 2004)

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