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'Chinese Prez thanks Int'l community for aid'

world Updated: May 18, 2008 08:26 IST
AFP
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Chinese President Hu Jintao expressed gratitude to foreign countries and people who offered aid since a major earthquake struck the country, state media reported on Sunday.

"On behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the State Council and the Central Military Commission, I express heartfelt thanks to the foreign governments and international friends that have contributed to our quake-relief work," Xinhua news agency quoted Hu saying.

Hu, who is in Sichuan province, which was struck by a 7.9-magnitude quake on Monday, made the remarks at a meeting on rescue and relief work on Saturday evening, the report said.

At the meeting the report said Hu "called for unremitting efforts" to look for survivors, despite it being five days since the quake hit China's southwest.

"We should put people first and saving people's lives is still the top priority of the relief work," Xinhua quoted him saying.

Troops, armed police, and public security personnel should reach villages and search every collapsed building to save people, he reportedly said.

The earthquake, the worst in a generation in China, has killed 28,881 people and left nearly five million homeless.

Beijing initially rebuffed offers of rescue teams from abroad, but it let a Japanese team in first -- they arrived Friday -- followed by rescuers from Singapore, South Korea and Russia.

It is the first time the Chinese government has accepted foreign professionals for a domestic disaster rescue and relief operation.

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