CHENGDU, May 15 (Xinhua) -- A Japanese rescue team is expected to arrive in the quake-hit Sichuan Province in southwest China early on Friday to assist local disaster relief efforts.
The first batch of the rescue team, comprising 31 members, had arrived at the Beijing Capital International Airport at about 9:25 p.m. on Thursday, and they were soon transferred to another flight heading for Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province.
Another 30 members will leave Japan for China on Friday.
The Japanese rescue team, made up of fire fighters, police, Japan Coast Guard and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, will be the first group of foreign aid personnel to China following the devastating 7.8-magnitude quake which jolted a wide range of areas on Monday.
"We will discuss the details for relief operation after they arrive. We will take into account their specialties while assigning jobs," said Li Chengyun, vice governor of Sichuan, at a press conference.
The provincial government has also accepted professional rescue teams from Hong Kong and Taiwan, which are expected to arrive in Sichuan soon, he said.
More than 50,000 people are feared dead in Sichuan alone after Monday's earthquake, the rescue headquarters of the State Council said Thursday.
The confirmed death toll in Sichuan was 19,509 by 4 p.m. Thursday, up by 5,046 from Wednesday's 14,463, Li told the conference.
Another 102,103 people were injured and 12,323 buried in the rubble, he said.
Rescuers have pulled 13,465 people alive out of the debris, he said.
It was the worst earthquake to strike China since the Tangshan earthquake in northern Hebei Province in 1976, in which 242,000 people lost their lives.
The Sichuan tremors were also felt in most parts of the country.
In regions neighboring Sichuan, 280 were killed in Gansu Province, 106 in Shaanxi Province, 14 in Chongqing Municipality, two in Henan Province, one in Yunnan Province and one in Hubei Province.
Japan's offer of sending a professional emergency relief team to the quake-hit areas showed the Japanese government and people's care, "especially when China is in a difficult time," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday.
China is deeply grateful for the messages of support and the earthquake relief aid coming from the international community, he told a regular press conference.
As of 2 p.m. on Thursday, 151 countries and 14 regional or international organizations had offered support in various forms.