BEIJING (AP) — China, criticized for a tepid response to the Philippines typhoon, said Wednesday that 51 emergency medical personnel from the government and a disaster relief team from the China Red Cross will leave for the archipelago nation within days.
The Chinese navy will also send a medical ship, the Peace Ark, one of the world's largest and most capable floating hospitals.
The announcement came almost two weeks after the typhoon struck, killing more than 4,000 people.
Beijing's response has been attributed to its feud with Manila over South China Sea islands both claim. It has pledged less than $2 million in cash and materials. In contrast, the United States says it has provided more than $37 million in humanitarian assistance, and even major corporations such as Ikea and Coca-Cola outdid the Chinese pledge.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said that after consultation with the Philippines' government, the two government and Red Cross teams will leave in the coming days.
A first batch of 16 rescuers from the Red Cross left Wednesday and a second team with 14 members will set off Friday, he told a daily media briefing.
The Peace Ark has 300 beds, 20 intensive care units, and eight operating theaters, making it smaller but similar in design to the U.S. Navy's 1,000-bed USNS Mercy, now preparing for deployment to the Philippines at its home base in San Diego. The Peace Ark is based in Shanghai, about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) from the disaster zone.