China says medical team ready to rush to Philippines

BEIJING Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:13am GMT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Monday it was ready to rush an emergency medical team to the Philippines to help survivors of the November 8 typhoon, and was just waiting for approval from Manila.

China's response to the disaster has been slow and, some would say, less than generous. The world's second-largest economy initially announced it was giving $200,000 and then raised that by $1.64 million. On Sunday, it said it was ready to send rescue and medical teams.

"The emergency medical team that the Chinese government is preparing to send to the Philippines' disaster area is ready to go," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang. "The Red Cross Society of China and a number of civil rescue teams under them are also ready."

"We are now in communication with the Philippines. Once we get the permission, and once various aspects of the conditions are allowed, these medical and rescue teams can immediately rush to the disaster areas."

Tension between China and the Philippines has escalated recently over Manila's bid for a U.N. court ruling against Beijing's claim to much of the South China Sea.

Qin said China had been "closely watching" the situation since the typhoon hit.

"As the disaster has progressed, we are also continuously assessing it," Qin said. "According to the requirements of the Philippines as well as the actual disaster situation, (we) determine when to provide what type of assistance."

The United States has mobilised about 50 ships and aircraft in the disaster zone, with helicopters delivering supplies from an aircraft carrier. It has announced $37 million in humanitarian aid.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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