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China open to foreign assistance in disaster relief
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China is willing to continue working with foreign countries in disaster prevention and relief in future, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

"We greatly appreciate some countries for their requests to send professional rescue teams after the major earthquake in Wenchuan, Sichuan Province," spokesman Qin Gang told a press conference.

The Chinese authorities have acted "fast and efficiently" since receiving applications from foreign rescue teams, he said. Qin was replying to a question on whether there was delay during the procedure of approval as several foreign teams arrived in the quake zone 72 hours after the disaster, missing the "golden" chance for saving survivors.

He linked the delay of rescuers' arrival to damaged transport facilities and aftershocks.

The May 12 earthquake seriously damaged local infrastructure, especially roads and telecommunications facilities, he said. "This added up the difficulties for rescue work in the early stage. Not mentioning foreign rescuers, even domestic ones could not reach the sites at the earliest time."

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