China sends rescue team to quake-hit NZ

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China has sent a rescue team to quake-hit Christchurch at the request of the New Zealand government, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said Thursday.

According to the China Earthquake Administration, the 10-member team includes experts and rescuers.

China was ready to provide assistance to New Zealand in accordance with New Zealand's needs, Ma said at a regular press briefing.

He said the Chinese government paid great attention to developments after the 6.3-magnitude quake Tuesday in Christchurch, one of New Zealand's biggest cities, and Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi had sent condolences to their New Zealand counterparts.

Ma said the Chinese Embassy in Wellington immediately launched an emergency response, while Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand Xu Jianguo headed a mission to assist stranded Chinese.

The embassy also opened a 24-hour hotline service to offer emergency assistance for Chinese nationals, and the phone numbers were 0064-27-5196653, 0064-21-841026, and 0064-27-5196656.

Ma said the embassy was making inquiries on missing Chinese students, and China urged New Zealand to spare no effort to search for them.

The Red Cross Society of China and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries had respectively donated 50,000 U.S. dollars and 100,000 RMB (15,210 U.S. dollars) to New Zealand in assistance, Ma said.

New Zealand police confirmed Thursday that 98 people were known to have died in the earthquake, while 226 people remained missing.

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