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China says foreign aid is welcome

Unlike Myanmar, China responds to a brutal natural disaster by welcoming int'l aid and releasing a swift flow of info on the mounting death toll, reports Reshma Patil.YouTube videos on quake | Toll rises | See pics

world Updated: May 14, 2008 03:45 IST
Reshma Patil

Unlike its closed ally Myanmar, China has responded to a brutal natural disaster by welcoming international aid and releasing a swift flow of information on the mounting death toll which crossed 12,000 in 24 hours in Sichuan alone.

<b1>In its public response to the crisis, the government, ever sensitive to international criticism, has executed a complete change in strategy compared to its secretive blunders during the SARS outbreak in 2003, and more recently, the clampdown in Tibet after riots in March.

"Many nations and international organisations have sent condolences, solicitude, and extended support. China says thank you and welcome," said foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang on Tuesday. "Relevant departments are ready to make contact with nations and international organisations."

Three decades ago in 1976, when a severe earthquake killed almost 2,40,000 in Tangshan in east China, the death toll and details of the disaster were never as openly released as the constant updates from the official media since Monday’s disaster. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is leading televised rescue efforts using a loudspeaker to console trapped victims, and ordering troops into the epicentre even on foot through remote mountain terrain with communication cut off.

By Tuesday, the government had allocated about $52 million for disaster relief.

Toll rises

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Big shocks in the past

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Beijing jolted

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See pics

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Worst quakes

See YouTube videos on China quake