A National Tragedy in 100,000 Personal TraumasUpdates 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 China2 NYTimes: In Departure, China Seeks Outside Help3 CNN.com: Fresh earthquake hits devastated SW China4 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
. 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.
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 YorkChinese Embassy in the UKChinese 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
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.Caeli