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Author Topic: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas  (Read 1938 times)

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Offline CaeliTopic starter

A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« on: May 16, 2008, 08:02:12 AM »
A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
Updates on Sichuan Earthquake Relief efforts

For those who are not clear on the details, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake1 hit the Sichuan province in China on the afternoon of May 12th, 2008. Many of the worst hit regions close to the epicenter of this earthquake are without communications to the outside, due to collapsed cell phone towers. There is no water and no electricity, and landslides have blocked the roads that are the sole link to remote villages and regions. Eight percent of the structures in towns and villages near the epicenter were completely destroyed; they didn't simply collapse, but "shattered." This is the largest and most serious natural disaster to hit China since the Tangshan earthquake in 1976, which killed 240,000 people.

China's government initially mobilized over 50,000 soldiers to go to the region and help with continuing rescue efforts; however, aid is hampered by buckled roads, as well as landslides that block these roads, in addition to a lack of necessary equipment and specialists who can get past heavy rubble and debris. In remote regions of China, it is often only one road that leads to remote counties and villages that are often miles up the mountains of the mountainous Sichuan province. In areas where homes have not collapsed, families sleep outside, with little protection against the cold nights. Thousands and thousands of people are beyond help, trapped underneath the rubble of collapsed buildings: students trapped under schools, workers trapped under offices and factories.

The latest update, via the limited cable channels from my dorm room (no Chinese channels available, sadly) and NYTimes, report that the expected death tolls are forecast to reach 50,000 deaths; confirmed death tolls have currently exceeded 22,000 people, but rescue workers have yet to reach the worst-damaged counties and villages. Over 159,000 people are reported injured, and millions are left homeless.3

President Bush has spoken by phone with China's President, Hu Jintao, and is offering an initial $500,000 in earthquake aid. China has departed from past diplomatic practice2, and is seeking disaster relief experts and heavy equipment needed for rescue operations from both Japan and Taiwan, countries that it has in the past considered rivals or renegades. Access to heavily-hit areas has been also been extended to Russia, South Korea, and Singapore - evidence that even the 130,000 army soldiers, security forces, and medics are not enough to handle this situation.

An estimated 4 million homes have been destroyed. There are medicine, sanitation, shelter, food, and water shortages. Entire villages have been leveled, and there are few buildings that have not been seriously damaged. Aftershocks from the earthquake, of which there have already been over 1000 (the first was a magnitude 6.0; the latest, on Friday, was a magnitude 5.5), are triggering landslides and burying rescue vehicles in the quake zone.3

There are stories of miracle survivals and rescues - but also hundreds and thousands of tragedies. In cities close to the epicenter such as Beichuan (population: 20,000), it is suspected that only 5,000 have survived.4 The builders of these collapsed buildings may face a penalty of execution for using cheap materials and taking shortcuts, which do not meet earthquake safety standards in China4.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, where there is a large Chinese-American population, Chinese news papers and news stations offer extensive coverage on this natural disaster in China.

1 New York Times | Times Topics: Earthquake in China
2 NYTimes: In Departure, China Seeks Outside Help
3 Fresh earthquake hits devastated SW China
4 CNN News, 5:33AM PST

I will be the first to say that numbers don't mean much to me. It's the stories and the images that affect me the most - tales of children and babies rescued from underneath the rubble of collapsed schools, of men and women rescued from clinics and homes. Stories from rescuers, who say that the bodies of teenagers found in a collapsed middle school in Beichuan were found embracing each other... huddled beneath desks and tables... with faces contorted in pain and fear.

I don't know how much I've cried over this in the past few days - I'm keeping in regular contact with my parents (who live in the Bay Area), who have classmates with relatives who live in Sichuan, who have more knowledge and information about this crisis. Watching the news, and reading the news stories, very physically hurts. It's so hard to convey how much the stories about this earthquake - both the miracles, and the tragedies - have touched so close to home for me, since I'm a first-generation Chinese-American who has made frequent visits to China in the past, and also have many relatives whom I am close to who live in on the mainland. Comments such as "Well, look at what they've done to Tibet - they deserve it"... it makes me want to physically hit the students who say such ignorant and insensitive things.

I wish I could do more than just keeping myself aware and updated about the earthquake and relief efforts. The student organization I am a part of at my university is fund-raising for relief in both Burma and China, so we are trying to spread awareness about these disasters on campus and in the community.

I hope to spread awareness about this disaster in Elliquiy, one of the forums that I frequent most, and also where I have gotten to know many individuals in the community beyond roleplaying. This is a crisis that is very important and near to me - not just because I am Chinese, but because I have relatives who live in China. I'll try to keep you guys updated on the situation. For more information, I would suggest (for sources in English) New York Times and I know for a fact, though, that Chinese news stations and Chinese newspapers have a lot more information about this event, so if you know understand Chinese, these are likely the best sources (though you probably already know this).

If you are interested in donating, I highly suggest you donate to the Chinese embassy or consulate in your appropriate country or state. Your ENTIRE contribution is guaranteed to go to the Sichuan earthquake relief. If you wish to know what ONLINE donation options are available, please PM me for more details.

Chinese Consulate in New York
Chinese Embassy in the UK
Chinese Embassy in Australia

Chinese Consulate in San Francisco
Acceptable: Check only
Payable to: Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco
Memo: 5/12 Sichuan earthquake donation

Your donation will be forwarded to the China Red Cross.

     Mailing Address:
Consul Yan Li
Education Office,
The Consulate General of the People's Republic of China,
1450 Laguna Street
San Fransisco, CA 94115
Chinese Consulate in Houston
Acceptable: check/money order/cashier's check
Payable to: Chinese Consulate General in Houston
Memo: Earthquake donation, 捐款救灾
     Mailing Address:
811 Holman Street
Houston, TX 77002


I'm hardly an expert on the disaster, but I will do my best to answer questions that anyone might have. Also, if you have information to contribute or insight to give, I would welcome your comments and replies.

Thank you for reading, Elliquiy.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2008, 09:13:38 AM by Caeli »

Offline Elvi

Re: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2008, 09:02:12 AM »
I am pleased that at least things are going well for the Chinese peoples.
(Not that I am surprised as the country is trying to bring itself out into the world again.)

If only the same thing could be said of Myanmar (previously known as Burma).

Here, there have been, to date, over 71,000 deaths and probably more.
Yet their Dictatorship is still refusing to allow the manpower and aid in, in a propper manner.

The whole world seems to be batting their heads off their brick wall, in an attempt to help those who in a most terrible situation and can't seem to get anywhere....


Offline CaeliTopic starter

Re: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2008, 06:35:11 PM »
I wouldn't put it as 'going well,' but I understand what you're trying to say, Elvi.

Yes, the whole Burma situation is just... it's terrible. People don't have clean water or food, and are just struggling to survive one day at a time, while all that international aid is just sitting and waiting at the border because the junta regime is being... well... stupid about allowing foreigners in to help with disaster relief.

There's so much more that can be said, but right now it's that most critical time, and it's so telling that they still are doing so little, for the so many that need help.

Offline Elvi

Re: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2008, 06:45:27 PM »
Going well, as in their government have acted quickly and haven't hessitated, (even though I could see it being 'difficult' for them), to ask for specialised help.

I'm actually gobsmacked by the reaction almost all of the rest of the world is getting from Myanmar.
OK...I can see them not being very grateful in receiving help from those such as the UK, (our government actually immediately directed funds for them into and through the EU and Nato), but everyone else as well?

It makes me wonder, if they are prepared to loose more than a 100,000 people, (the projected death tole if something isn't done), what in hell's name are they hiding?

Offline CaeliTopic starter

Re: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2008, 06:56:38 PM »
It's just crazy. They're willing to let their people die as they wallow in their wealth; they're willing to let people starve from lack of food, because they don't want foreign aid inside their borders. It's not even the initial damage that is most worrisome now - if people in affected areas don't get clean water and into more sanitary conditions soon, the cyclone's damage will escalate and include things like disease and... well... a lot of other things.

What could be so gods-damned important that they are willing to lose thousands of lives over to keep it secret? It's just... ridiculous.

Offline Elvi

Re: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2008, 07:04:07 PM »
And don't forget, still hold pseudo elections and rejoice that their people still believe in them...

As I said, there is a whole can of worms ready for the opening there and I'm not sure if I really want to see what is inside...

Offline Moondazed

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Re: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2008, 08:33:14 PM »
NPR is doing some really moving reporting on the China tragedy, as well as the Myanmar situation.  I listen to NPR during my very long commute and I've been moved to tears many times :(

Offline Hunter

Re: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2008, 10:10:33 PM »
If memory serves (and you're talking about what I think you are), the estimate is that 1.5 million are expected to be casualties as a result by the time it's all over (due to disease, starvation, lack of drinkable water, etc).    :-\

Offline CaeliTopic starter

Re: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2008, 10:22:00 PM »
I've heard that, too. We can only hope that something changes soon :[

Offline CaeliTopic starter

Re: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« Reply #9 on: May 17, 2008, 03:58:33 AM »
CNN News is reporting that a massive evacuation under way due to a possible flood, from the possible bursting of a dam near Beichuan, China. Many people were told to leave, including rescue workers and soldiers. Almost everybody is on foot, making their way up the mountain, except for occasional vehicles.

Currently, the death toll has risen to 28,881, with 198,347 injured.

Offline CaeliTopic starter

Re: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2008, 09:07:15 AM »
This evening, I read on that panda reserve workers (sorry for the wrong terminology) helped to save some dozen American and British tourists who were visiting a panda reserve when the earthquake hit. It's a very touching story, about how panda keepers and panda reserve staff they risked their lives to save 13 panda cubs and all of the tourists, making a dangerous escape through very dangerous conditions. However, all of the tourists managed to escape safely, and they were helicoptered out of the quake zone on Thursday morning. Three giant pandas were reported missing on Sunday, but the reserve's other 60 pandas are safe.

Also, filed on May 18th, 8:13AM EST:

China declared three days of national mourning for earthquake victims and ordered a suspension of the Olympic torch relay, as the search for survivors of the disaster grew bleak Sunday.

The State Council said the mourning period would start Monday and include three minutes of silence observed nationwide at 2:28 p.m., the time the quake struck.

Beijing Olympic organizers said in a statement that the torch relay would be suspended ''to express our deep mourning to the victims of the earthquake.''

Currently, the confirmed death toll has risen over 32,477. Another 220,109 people suffered injuries, according to a statement from the State Council, China's Cabinet. The earthquake damaged some water projects, but no reservoirs have burst, and flood threats have eased after waterways near the epicenter overflowed with no problems. Nuclear facilities 40 to 90 miles from the epicenter appear to be safe.

Two U.S. Air Force cargo planes loaded with tents, lanterns and 15,000 meals landed Sunday in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu.

Offline CaeliTopic starter

Song Tribute && Update
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2008, 05:21:06 AM »
Currently, there are over 40,000 confirmed deaths. Over 5 million people have been left homeless from the earthquake.

I found this video of Singaporean Chinese Pop artist, JJ Lin. This song was composed within two days of the earthquake, and is written as a tribute of hope and memory.

JJ Lin 林俊傑 - 愛與希望 (Love and Hope)


Chinese Lyrics


大地被搖晃著 天空突然黑了
我的心也被震碎了 下一秒瓦解了 淚堆積成了河

但明天是好的 我們要堅定著
愛~讓我們不放棄活著 還要繼續和大自然拔河

當愛與希望 投射炙熱的太陽 ***
昨日淚光 會隨時間都蒸發
別輕易放棄 明天要許更多願望
裝滿了勇氣 就更有力量

當愛與希望 倒映暖暖的月亮
再回頭望 又是築好的家鄉
我打開了窗 看見了晴朗
     English Translation

Love and Hope

The ground shakes, the sky suddenly turns black
My heart breaks open too, and a second later
My tears pile up into rivers

But tomorrow will be okay, we will stay strong
Love, let us keep living
and struggling against disasters

When love and hope project sunlight,
And yesterday's tears will evaporate
Don't give up without a fight - we can make more wishes tomorrow
the courage that fills us will be our strength

When love and hope pour warm moonlight,
And look back once more at a home that's enduring
I know that ahead there are more roads for me to cross
I open my window, and am greeted by clear skies
« Last Edit: May 21, 2008, 06:35:13 AM by Caeli »

Offline Moondazed

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Re: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2008, 03:20:31 PM »
The lyrics are beautiful! :)

Offline CaeliTopic starter

Re: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2008, 05:32:35 PM »
I agree. :]

Offline The Overlord

Re: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2008, 07:51:29 AM »

So far it appears everyone is avoiding national chest-beating and working on this. From what I see to date, China has no issues with US help. This is as it should be, there's no room here for nationalism. World citizens are in peril, and something needs to be done.

Offline CaeliTopic starter

Update on [05.12] Sichuan Earthquake
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2008, 01:52:33 AM »
There have been different spins on why China has been acting so openly and allowing the media so much free reign, but I'd rather not debate politics or look for ulterior motives. Even if there are other reasons that things have rolled out this way, I'm sincerely glad to see that China is doing its utmost for those who need help in affected regions.

May 24 Update
According to this article, the death toll from the earthquake has passed 60,000, and could rise to 80,000 or more.

There are also 15 radiation sources still buried under rubble and inaccessible, out of the 50 potential radiation sources. All of China's nuclear facilities are safe, though, so these are problem sources used by hospitals or factories for research, foreign experts have said.

China's richest provinces have adopted areas hit by the earthquake, and will be sending aid to these areas, especially tents and drinking water. Tents are needed because it is currently the rainy season right now in China, and millions have been left without shelter from the earthquake's devastation.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 01:53:46 AM by Caeli »

Offline CaeliTopic starter

A Mircale Amidst Catastrophe: Yinxing Primary School
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2008, 05:45:00 AM »
Rescue Ends One Ordeal for Young Chinese Pupils
Read the Article Here

"When the earth finally stopped bucking, only one building was left standing in the vicinity of the Yinxing Township Central Primary School, and that was the school itself."

The town of Yinxing was flattened, many of the buildings destroyed, but the school building was left standing when the shaking stopped - and all but three of the primary school's 268 children survived. In the aftermath of the earthquake, stories of schools that have collapsed on their foundations and killed almost all of the students buried beneath their rubble have become the stories of tragedy and tears, heartbreaking moreso because of China's One-Child policy.

This story is a miracle, but also tearjerking, because 193 of the surviving students did not meet with their families before they were flown to Chengdu, the capital of the province, even nine days after the earthquake happened. It's believed that many of the parents of these students are dead or missing; the article describes boulders and rocks that "thundered down the steep mountainsides surrounding the school." The teachers and students made a temporary camp in the field outside their school until help arrived.

It was not until the third day after the earthquake that a small expeditionary team of soldiers showed up. That night, 300 troops arrived bearing tents and food, and students and teachers said they greeted them in tears.

“They told us not to be afraid,” said Yi Shoulong, 10, repeating a revolutionary legend told to him by the troops. “They said soldiers are used to the rain of bullets from enemies as they build bridges over rivers.”

The children of Yinxing Township Central Primary School are currently housed in a dormitory where several hundred children from other areas also separated from their parents are living.

While the children are being well cared for, their longer term care will be a difficult proposition...

“One girl I saw clearly needed attention,” said Feng Weidong, a psychologist. “When she was showing us pictures that her group was drawing, she suddenly burst into tears. She felt the sorrow of losing her beautiful school very deeply, and there’s a sadness which she can’t get rid off.”

Offline Elvi

Well....I suppose it's a start?
« Reply #17 on: May 25, 2008, 05:20:35 AM »

Ban's mission to ramp up international aid to cyclone survivors made a breakthrough on Friday when junta supremo Than Shwe promised him that all disaster experts, regardless of nationality, would be allowed in after weeks of restrictions.

Perhaps people will get the help they need now, after that it's up to them as to how they show their current government their 'appreciation'.

Offline Zakharra

Re: A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal Traumas
« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2008, 08:37:41 PM »
 Finally. The junta ruling Burma has had it's head shoved up it's ass for so long. It's nice to see them pull it out for once and actually think. The cyclone victims need help, not some government beating it's chest for propaganda purposes.