Christians Responding to South China Quake

Christian organizations are responding to the 126,000 people whose homes were destroyed in a 5.6 quake that shook the Ludian County in China’s Yunnan Province
( [email protected] ) Aug 18, 2004 09:41 PM EDT

Casualty wards at the No. 1 People's Hospital in Zhaotong, China were filled to capacity, said a woman in the hospital's administrative office. Following an earthquake in Ludian County, southwest China's Yunnan Province, tens of thousands of people have been left homeless with only minimal shelter from heat and rain.

"Our doctors are just managing to keep up, but there are so many injured," the woman told the Associated Press. She said army doctors had been sent from Shanghai to help.

After last week’s magnitude 5.6 quake that left four dead and nearly 600 injured, about 8,000 tents were delivered to the area in Yunnan province, which was only enough for about half the 126,000 people whose homes were destroyed. The rest had to improvise shelters from plastic sheeting, said John Sparrow, a spokesman for the Red Cross office in Beijing.

"The situation in terms of the people affected is worrying. There is a great need to provide people with shelter," he told AP.

The quake struck amid summer flooding throughout China that has strained emergency services. Those resources could be put under further pressure as eastern China braced for more flooding and landslides from a typhoon that moved ashore late last Thursday.

"It's a summer in which this country is being severely stretched," Sparrow said.

World Vision’s relief team recently completed an on-site disaster assessment in Ludian County, Zhaotong City, Yunnan and reported that thousands of quake victims are still at the mercy of aftershocks. Almost 100 aftershocks have been recorded so far leaving thousands of people homeless for at least a couple of months.

“It is still raining. The bad weather worsens the lives of thousands sleeping in open areas. The victims here have an urgent need for shelter and protective materials as aftershocks have still continued,” said Kang Chen World Vision’s relief worker in Ludian county over the weekend.

World Vision is planning to distribute 2,000 quilts to help victims to ward off the cold. In addition, while local government has immediately distributed at least 7,000 temporary shelters to meet the accommodation needs of quake victims; World Vision is preparing to provide 150 large shelters to local schools as temporary classrooms. The initial budget is US$44,000.

The earthquake, centered on Ludian county in Yunnan, led to the collapse of 6,185 houses and damages to 21,867 houses. It was the third quake to strike the area in less than 12 months.