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Foreign medical teams active in earthquake relief

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BEIJING, May 27, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- Despite speaking different languages, medical teams from many countries and regions are actively helping the earthquake relief in disaster-hit southwest China.

"Xiao Gan" is the nickname locals have given to Chinese Russian doctor Gan Junda. The 25-year-old volunteered to come to the quake-shaken areas as soon as he heard the news.

"When I saw the tragic scenes on TV, I felt like my own family members were suffering the disaster."

Gan migrated with his family to Russia from Chongqing Municipality, a city hundreds of kilometers away from the epicenter, when he was six years old. Besides Russian, he is fluent in the Chongqing dialect and this has helped him better communicate with local people. He is also the interpreter for his colleagues when not seeing to the injured.

After a day's work, he said he always feels exhausted. However, "the physical fatigue gives way to the pride that I can use what I have learnt to serve my compatriots".

Gan said he also felt lucky he could use the leechcraft (art of healing) that he had learned in Russia to rescue the people, and comfort them in Chongqing dialect. When he sees the little boy he cured in an operation running under the sunshine, he knew he had made the right choice.

Japanese nurse Takano Hiroko is assigned to a blood dialysis center of Huaxi Hospital in Chengdu. Having joined many overseas rescue tasks, she is still deeply moved by the gratitude from her Chinese patients.

"Actually, I didn't do much work since I cannot communicate well with my patients. But they will say thank you for even a little care you give to them. I was deeply moved."

Though she cannot speak Chinese, Takano looks after her patients very carefully, working nearly 12 hours daily.

"My family give me a lot of support. Japan is also a country with frequent earthquakes. Many Japanese doctors are willing to share with the Chinese side their experience in quake relief, and help the Chinese people to fight against the disaster."

In Shigu Town of Shifang City, a town severely destroyed in the quake, Belgian medical teams received a warm welcome from local residents.

"I never received such warm welcome. Though the survivors have little material, they brought to us things to eat and drink. They are very friendly," said team head Peter Vanden Broeck.

With the assistance of local residents and soldiers, the 250 tents they brought were set up within about one night.

Outside the tents, there are many messages written by local children for their "Dear Belgian uncles", both in Chinese and English, saying "Welcome to China. We sincerely appreciate what you have done for us", "you are our friends forever" and "We love humorous Peter".

"I have never before seen such a miserable disaster. But I had witnessed how the entire nation united as one to rescue people in the disaster areas," the experienced rescuer said. Broeck had joined many overseas relief tasks previously, such as the tsunami disaster in December2004, but this China trip left him with the "deepest impression".

The day he left Belgium for China was his wife's birthday. Nevertheless, "she can understand me," he said.

According to latest statistics, up until Tuesday, 11 medical teams of 285 medical personnel from Russia, Japan, Italy, German, Britain, France, Cuba, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao had arrived in the earthquake-hit areas for disaster relief.