JOHANNESBURG, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- A South African rescue team has begun its work in quake-devastated Haiti, South Africa's international relations department said on Sunday.
"The team arrived safely at 3:00 a.m. South African time (1:00 a.m. GMT). They started working this morning," spokesman Saul Molobi told the South African Press Agency on Sunday.
"So far, so good. We haven't received any reports to update us on the situation on the ground." The team left for Haiti on Thursday, but was delayed in the Dominican Republic due to damage at an airport in Haiti.
The South Africans had waited with 41 rescue teams, including three from the U.S. army, until telecommunications equipment was reinstalled.
Molobi said distance measuring equipment also had to be put in place to deal with the heavy traffic at the airport.
The South African team included about 40 people, mainly medical staff and engineers. It had taken 10 tons of search and rescue equipment as well as medical supplies. Molobi said South Africa would follow this up with other aid, like food and more medicine.
"Once most of the bodies have been collected, we will send forensic pathologists to identify them." It was hoped South Africa could raise 30 million rands (4.2 million U.S. dollars) to help.
The South African Red Cross would open a bank account next week to which people could send donations. The South Africa city of Tshwane and South African charity Gift of the Givers had also sent rescue teams.
Molobi said former Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide, who lives in South Africa, had not yet received an invitation to return home. Earlier, Aristide, who came to live in exile in South Africa with his family following his ousting as president in February 2004, publicly expressed a desire to go home.
Molobi said Aristide would need to receive a formal invitation to be allowed home, and would not be involved in politics once there. "When he goes back, he is not going back to a political office. He will just be going there to contribute through academia and civil interventions," said Molobi.