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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
World offers help to US
Rescue teams with a dog, searching for survivors and bodies
Many teams have earthquake rescue experience
Worldwide offers of rescue teams, aid and blood donations followed the initial reaction of shock, sadness and disbelief at the disastrous attacks in New York and Washington.

The European Commission has announced that it has more than 600 experts with a wide variety of skills ready to leave for New York to help with rescue efforts, once the US reopens its airspace.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat donates blood at Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip
Yasser Arafat launched a blood drive in Gaza
"The European network of catastrophe experts is mobilised and ready to furnish its assistance to the United States and to victims on the ground if they need it," Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom said in a statement.

Commissioner Wallstrom opened a crisis centre late Tuesday to co-ordinate aid from various European countries to the United States.


Ten Belgian specialists in burn treatment and victim identification are waiting in Iceland for US airports to open, the European statement said.

About 500 French search and rescue experts were also prepared to leave, as were specialists from Sweden, Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands.

The Czech Republic plans to send a six-member team that participated in various earthquake rescue missions, Czech radio reported.

Israel, too, said it was poised to send to New York rescue teams who had helped sift through the devastation after Turkey's massive 1999 earthquake.

Blood drive

And Magen David Adom, the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross, has been collecting blood donations for victims of the attacks, as have similar services in Russia and Kuwait.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat launched a blood drive in the Gaza Strip by donating blood himself.

"As you know, I said in my letter to President Bush yesterday that we put our modest capabilities at the disposal of the US president and people in light of this horrible incident," Mr Arafat told journalists.

The Canadian Red Cross said it was mobilising its disaster response teams to help people find their families.

And Japanese Prime Minister Junichi Koizumi said his government would "consider dispatching emergency international relief teams, and it will get ready to swiftly respond to requests for their dispatch."

Germany's Defence Minister, Rudolf Scharping, said Germany would send the US an Airbus A-310 to carry the injured, and offered Washington several other aircraft.

And the German media giant Bertelsmann said it was donating $2m (1.82m euros) to the families of the police and firefighters who were killed in the rescue operations.

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