By Jung Sung-ki
President Lee Myung-bak said Tuesday that his government will send emergency aid to China's Sichuan Province, which was hit by a powerful earthquake Monday, a presidential spokesman said Tuesday.
No South Korean casualties have been reported in the 7.8 magnitude quake in the southwestern region of China as of 4 p.m., according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The government is trying to assess casualties and damage to Koreans, it said.
However, disrupted communications is causing difficulties in assessing damage to South Koreans residing in the region, a ministry official said.
President Lee instructed his Cabinet to actively seek ways to help China conduct disaster-relief work, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said.
``President Lee called for efforts to help victims of the earthquake and extend support to them,'' he said.
The President sent a letter of condolence to Chinese President Hu Jintao through a diplomatic channel Tuesday, he added.
Tens of thousands of people remained cut off in the province, as troops continued efforts to reach towns and villages near the epicenter of the devastating earthquake, reports said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said the government put 41 rescue workers and more than 20 medical staff on standby for dispatch to China.
``South Korea plans to send manpower and relief goods at an early date,'' Moon told reporters. ``The detailed method and timing will be decided on soon through consultations with the Chinese government.''
More than 1,100 South Koreans, including businesspeople, company workers and students, reside in the area, according to the ministry.