May 20, 2008 / 3:04 PM / in 10 years

US giving quake search, rescue equipment to China

(Updates with Bush condolences)

WASHINGTON, May 20 (Reuters) - The United States is providing an additional $815,000 worth of earthquake aid to China, including search, rescue and recovery equipment, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

U.S. President George W. Bush went to the Chinese Embassy to sign a book of condolences and offered any U.S. assistance China requested and prayers "for those whose lives have been torn apart" by last week’s earthquake.

"We stand with you during this tragic moment as you mourn the loss of so many of your loved ones and search for those still missing," said Bush’s written message in the condolence book. He praised the "generosity of spirit and the strength of character shown by the Chinese people" in facing the disaster.

The U.S. Agency for International Development is sending a nine-person team to the quake-devastated areas of China to train local rescue workers on the use of the equipment, an agency statement said.

The new aid brings total U.S. assistance to China to $1.3 million following the quake in the mountainous Sichuan province last week, from which China says more than 70,000 people are dead or missing. The equipment is expected to arrive in Chengdu, Sichuan’s provincial capital, on Wednesday.

The new shipment will include saws, hand tools, hydraulic gear, concrete cutters, generators and personal safety equipment.

On Sunday, two U.S. military planes arrived in Chengdu with food, tents and other aid, the first U.S. relief supplies airlifted in to China since the quake. Earlier, Washington had provided $500,000 in cash assistance to China through the Red Cross.

The United States has also provided China with satellite images of earthquake-stricken areas surrounding Chengdu to help find victims and identify damaged infrastructure. (Additional reporting by Paul Eckert) (Editing by Patricia Zengerle)




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