Russia sends rescue teams, offers aid to Japan after quake

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Russia was sending specialist earthquake rescue teams to Japan Sunday and is offering aid in the nuclear field, news agencies quoted authorities as saying.

An aircraft carrying rescue teams and equipment was due to leave Moscow in the evening for Japan, the emergencies ministry said.

"An Ilyushin-76 transport with rescuers and material should take off at 6.00 pm (1500 GMT)", a spokeswoman said, quoted by Ria Novosti.

Another group of rescuers should leave at the same time for Japan from the Russian Far East, she added.

"A MI-26 helicopter from the emergencies ministry with a second rescue group should take off from Khabarovsk",she said.

This second group is made up of 25 men and a rescue vehicle, she added.

President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offered Russian help on Friday.

The Russian state atomic energy corporation has officially offered its help to Tokyo in dealing with the problems facing Japanese reactors following Friday's devastating quake.

"Our proposal was sent to the Japanese, we are ready to intervene at any moment, we await an answer," Rosatom's assistant director general, Alexander Lokshin, said, quoted by Ria Novosti.

The Russian nuclear authorities said they were being kept informed by their Japanese opposite numbers and have so far offered reassurance about the state of the Japanese reactors affected by the earthquake and the possible consequences of a major accident on people living in the Russian Far East.

The youth movement Molodaya Gvardiya, an offshoot of the ruling United Russia party, said that because of ther disaster it had called off a planned visit by activists to the South Kuril Islands.

These are four islands annexed by the Soviet Union in 1945 and the object of a dispute with Tokyo.

© 2011 AFP

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