International rescue effort gathers pace

International rescue effort gathers pace

Some 70 countries have offered assistance in an outpouring of solidarity with Japan, with help coming not only from allies like the United States but also countries with more strained relations like China, and even from the Afghan city of Kandahar.

“We have offered our Japanese friends whatever assistance is needed, as America will stand with Japan as they recover and rebuild,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. 

He said two US urban search and rescue teams, with 144 staff and 12 dogs, had begun work at first light on Monday looking for people trapped in the rubble in buildings flattened by the tsunami.

A 15-member Chinese rescue team was also at work in the main quake zone after landing in Tokyo on a special chartered flight on Sunday, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said. Setting aside the acrimony over Japan’s wartime atrocities that underpins widespread Chinese public distrust of Japan more than six decades after the end of World War II, Beijing has wasted no time in expressing sympathy for the disaster.

“I want to use today’s opportunity to extend our deep condolences for the loss of lives in this disaster and to express our sincere sympathy to the Japanese people,” Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said at the end of his annual news conference in Beijing on Monday.

South Korea said a 102-member rescue team departed for Japan on Monday aboard three air force C-130 planes.