(AFP) – May 12, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — US President George W. Bush on Monday offered his condolences to China over a devastating earthquake that killed thousands of people and said the United States "stands ready to help."
"The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the Chinese people, especially those directly affected. The United States stands ready to help in any way possible," Bush said in a statement.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said China had yet to ask for aid, so "what we can do as a country is offer our support and our thoughts and our prayers."
The massive earthquake rocked southwest China on Monday, killing thousands of people and flattening schools and homes in a powerful tremor that was felt across a swathe of southeast Asia.
The quake, with a magnitude of 7.8, struck close to densely-populated areas of Sichuan province including the capital Chengdu.
"I extend my condolences to those injured and to the families of the victims of today's earthquake in China's Sichuan Province. I am particularly saddened by the number of students and children affected by this tragedy," said Bush.
Fifty students have been confirmed killed after a powerful earthquake destroyed one school in southwestern China and buried about 900 people on Monday, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
The collapse occurred in the city of Dujiangyan in Sichuan province, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the quake's epicenter, according to the report.
"I think right now the Chinese are gathering information, assessing the damage, seeing what they may or may not need," said Perino.
"And in the meantime, we'll continue to see if there's anything that we can do to help them," she said. "We have a good relationship with the Chinese and that in times of need like this we can come together and help each other."
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