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15 May, 2008 01:47

Moscow offers mobile hospital to quake-hit China

The second of four Russian planes packed with humanitarian supplies has arrived in China with emergency aid for victims of Monday’s devastating earthquake. The IL-76 aircraft took 30 tonnes of supplies, including tents, blankets and mattresses.

Russia’s Emergency Ministry says it's ready to send rescuers and doctors who have vast experience in relief operations.

“As soon as we get a request from our colleagues in China, we will respond by sending not just tents and medicines, but manpower and dogs as well,” Emergency Minister Sergey Shoigu said.

He added that Russia “is willing to send a mobile hospital to China”.

“Since we are dealing with a remote area, we can offer an airborne hospital that we can set up anywhere in three hours,” Shoigu said.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the earthquake in Sichuan province continues to rise. Officials say it is now approaching 15,000.

More than 25,000 people are still believed to be trapped in rubble amid reports of further aftershocks in the worst-hit southwest of the country.

The quake also triggered landslides that blocked roads to hardest-hit areas.

Meanwhile, soldiers have approached the epicentre area bringing aid by helicopters and on foot.

But severe weather conditions are hampering the search and rescue operation.

The earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale is estimated to have caused more than $US 20 billion worth of damage.