6 june 2008

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with Ministry for Emergency Situations rescue team workers and doctors who took part in clearing the earthquake debris in China

Vladimir Putin

Meeting with Ministry for Emergency Situations rescue workers and doctors

"Many lives were saved thanks to your professional training and the competent performance of the rescue teams and doctors. We have every reason to be proud of you."

Present at the meeting was Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu.

Transcript of the begining of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Good morning.

First I would like to thank you for your work in China. It was one of the most devastating earthquakes not only in the history of China but in the history of the whole world. There were many victims. Many lives were saved thanks to your professional training and the competent performance of the rescue teams and doctors. We have every reason to be proud of you. Thank you very much.

I know that the Ministry is establishing good contacts with their Chinese colleagues. We are talking about personnel training and joint work for the future. This is especially important for neighbouring countries because they are situated next door to us. In the east it is China and in the west other countries. When good professional interaction is established you can react promptly and help each other - that is very important. But it is only possible because you have demonstrated first-class skills. Thank you.

How many rescue workers are still there?

Sergei Shoigu: We have two crews because the work is complicated: moving vehicles to regions that are hard to access. They move 10-12 bulldozers every day. There is a serious threat of mud slides and dams bursting. Nearly 1.5 million people have been evacuated from the region.

Vladimir Putin: What is the fire situation in the Far East and Siberia?

Sergei Shoigu: Regarding fires, the situation is better than last year and the year before last. The weather has helped of course....

Vladimir Putin: It started raining?

Sergei Shoigu: Yes, heavy rains. And of course local authorities are taking serious measures, with a few exceptions, I'd say. For the most part it has to do with the improved budgeting and provisions for additional equipment and additional firefighting mobilisation units.

The current situation in Sungari. Conflicting reports are coming in, Mr Putin. But we have asked our Chinese colleagues for more accurate reports on the condition of the enterprise.

Vladimir Putin: You mean the explosions?

Sergei Shoigu: Yes. Geographically it is only 300 km from Russia.

Vladimir Putin: 500.

Sergei Shoigu: Yes, it is 500 km to the nearest community, but 300 km to our border and 1,500 km if you travel down the river.

Vladimir Putin: Monitoring should be continuous to have an idea of what is happening. If necessary we can bring in the Defence Ministry.

Sergei Shoigu: At this stage we have deployed our laboratories. We will take samples of the water every 12 hours and of the air every eight hours.

Vladimir Putin: Will you manage with your own resources or should we bring in the Defence Ministry?

Sergei Shoigu: If the need arises, Mr Putin, we will of course ask for help.

Vladimir Putin: But there is no need so far?

Sergei Shoigu: So far there is no need.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.