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India airlifts quake relief to China

By Raghavendra in Beijing
May 17, 2008 18:58 IST
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In the first-ever major humanitarian assistance to China, India on Saturday began airlifting relief material to the earthquake-hit neighbour.

An IAF IL-76 plane carried the first consignment of tents, cutting machines, blankets, water purifiers, generators and other relief material to Chengdu, capital of worst-hit Sichuan Province on Saturday afternoon.

The 36-tonne consignment, part of the $5 million humanitarian assistance pledged by India, was transfered to the affected areas immediately after its arrival, the Indian Embassy said in Beijing.

Another IL-76 aircraft will ferry relief material from Kanpur on Monday. The second consignment will include sleeping bags, wheel-chairs, stretchers, cranes and winches to be used in getting to people trapped under debris in the worst earthquake to hit China since 1976.

"There could be more humanitarian flights if requested by the Chinese authorities," officials said in Delhi.

At least 28,000 people have been confirmed dead in the severe earthquake, measuring 6.8 on Richter scale, that rocked China on Monday.

While receiving the relief material, Ran Jinjun, a senior official of Chinese Civil Aviation Ministry, expressed deep gratitude to India for the "timely assistance."

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Raghavendra in Beijing
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