We're OK thanks, says China as Japan offers aid after Sichuan earthquake
PM Shinzo Abe says he hopes communities can recover as 31 nations send messages of support
Agencies in Tokyo and Beijing
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has offered help after the Sichuan earthquake.
Abe sent a message to President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday expressing sympathy for the victims. He also said he hoped the communities would recover as soon as possible, the foreign ministry revealed.
"Japan is ready to offer its maximum support," the message said. Beijing responded by saying while overseas assistance is not needed at the moment, it would contact Japan if aid was required.
The ministry said yesterday the country had the resources to cope with the disaster and didn't need international help for now.
This indicated it may not be as serious as the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.
CCTV reported yesterday that a total of 31 countries, including Vietnam, Cuba, France and Russia, had expressed condolences to the victims.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross of Taiwan said yesterday it had formed 20 rescue teams that were ready to head to the region devastated by the quake, the Taiwan ETTV news channel reported.
It also quoted the head of the Taiwan Red Cross as saying that the China Red Cross had asked for 5 million yuan (HK$6.2 million) rescue fund from its Taiwan colleagues before they send the rescue teams to Sichuan.
The Taiwan Red Cross said 1 million yuan would be used for purchasing medical facilities, and it had agreed with the China Red Cross that the two parties would discuss how to use the remaining 4 million yuan, reported the mainland-based International Business Times.
However, the China Red Cross later denied it had asked for the rescue fund.
Longmen and Qingren townships are among the worst affected by the quake, Xinhua said, citing Jin Zelin, an official with the provincial armed police corps.
Most of the buildings in the old urban area of Lushan county and Longmen have collapsed, Xinhua said, citing the local government. Three other townships in the county are cut off, it said.
Lushan, a mountainous rural area, was badly hit by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake when many houses were destroyed, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Sino-Japanese ties remain strained since a long-simmering territorial dispute over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea intensified last year.
Japan administers the unoccupied islands, which it calls the Senkakus. The waters around the islands are considered potentially rich in natural resources.
Tensions peaked last September after the Japanese government purchased islets in the chain it did not already own, sparking violent demonstrations in mainland cities.