|Remarkable Progress has been Made in China's Rescue Effort in Yushu(The Chinese Embassy in the United States, April 22, 2010)|
On April 14, a powerful earthquake of 7.1 magnitude struck the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu in Qinghai Province, China, causing severe casualties and property losses. As of 5 p.m. on April 21 Beijing time, the death toll had risen to 2,187, with 80 still missing and 12,135 injured, among which 1,434 were in serious condition. The quake had left 15,000 houses flattened and about 100,000 people to be relocated.
Following the earthquake, President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao immediately gave important instructions. They called for all-out efforts to save lives and asked authorities to step up earthquake monitoring , forecast and precautions, provide assistance to the affected people and maintain social stability in the region.The State Council, China's cabinet, promptly initiated the first-degree national disaster response mechanism and set up a quake-relief headquarter.
To deal with the devastating earthquake, President Hu Jintao postponed his planned visits to Venezuela and Chile and returned to China on April 17. On the same day, he convened a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, China's top central leadership, to outline a comprehensive disaster relief plan. On April 18, President Hu left Beijing and flew into Yushu with packs of relief material to comfort the affected people and conduct field inspection and oversight of the rescue and relief work. Premier Wen delayed visits to Brunei, Indonesia and Myanmar and flew in to Yushu on April 15 to comfort the affected people and oversee the rescue efforts.
Over the past few days, the Chinese Government has been mobilizing all resources and channeling rescue personnel and supplies to the quake-hit region. Over 20,000 people are now involved in rescue efforts in Yushu, including local officials and communities, PLA soldiers and armed police, public security police, fire fighters, specialized rescue teams and 40 medical teams and over 2,000 medical aid people, which makes the number of rescuers sufficient for the rescue and relief effort. By April 20, 17,000 people trapped have been saved by rescuers, with a total of 6,870 people pulled out from under the rubble of collapsed buildings, among whom 6,110 survived.
By April 20, the Chinese government has allocated 500 million yuan (72 million U.S. dollars) to support Yushu quake relief efforts, including evacuations, resettlement, medical care, disease prevention, infrastructure repairs and the re-opening of schools. By 4 p.m. on April 20, 34,468 tents, 77,402 cotton quilts, 55,407 cotton-stuffed coats, 1,106 tonnes of drinking water and instant noodles had been sent to quake zone.
People across the country and in all sectors have been offering help to the region. As of 4 p.m. on April 18, Qinghai Province has received money donation of about 60 million dollars and material donations worth over 26.5 million dollars. A TV charity show on the evening of April 20 broadcast live nationwide by China Central Television (CCTV) raised 2.175 billion yuan ($319 million) in donations for Yushu, which mainly came from the country's performing artists, dignitaries, news organizations as well as private and state-owned enterprises. The donations will be channelled to the quake zone through the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Red Cross Society of China.
So far, relief efforts in all aspects are proceeding smoothly, including the rescue work, medical services, relocation of affected people, infrastructure reparation, relief supplies and information release. In general, the rescue and relief efforts are timely, strong and effective and have played an important role in minimizing losses, resettling the local people and maintaining social stability. By now, almost all of the affected local people are sheltered under tents, with food, clean water and basic medical treatment ensured, and there have been no plague break or public health incidents reported. Furthermore, a special task force under the State Council quake-relief headquarter was set up on April 19 to take care of and facilitate the reconstruction work.
On April 21, a national day of mourning was held in China for the Yushu quake victims, with top Chinese leaders paying a silent tribute in Beijing to those killed, the Chinese flag lowered to half-mast around the country and at embassies and consulates abroad in a show of respect for the victims, and public entertainment suspended.
The high altitude (3,700 meter above the sea level), rugged terrain, frequent aftershocks (by 8 p.m. On April 21, 1,350 aftershocks have been recorded) as well as the cold and volatile weather have made rescue efforts more difficult. Since late April 20, roads leading to Yushu area have all experienced snow or rain, adding to the difficult delivery of relief goods. Many rescuers are suffering from altitude sickness. The altitude sickness even affected the sniffer dogs, making them less efficient in the search for survivors. Many rescuers had fallen seriously ill and had to be flown out for medical treatment. Given the current circumstances, it is very difficult for other rescuers to access the region and conduct rescue efforts efficiently even when they reach there. Therefore, the most efficient way to provide assistance to the disaster-hit region is in the form of money donations. This will help with the reconstruction of the region and restore production activities and normal life of the local community. (for relevant information, please refer to: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/xw/t684415.htm)
Most of the Yushu population are ethnic Tibetans. What's particularly worth mentioning is the fact that local Tibetan people including many Tibetan monks have been braving the devastating disaster and joining hands with the PLA ranks and other rescuers to fight against the adverse situation and save quake victims. The Chinese government fully respects local religious beliefs and customs, and has been offering counseling to the victims. Prayer ceremonies for the quake-affected people are being held both in Yushu and in Beijing. On April 20, the 11th Panchen Lama hosted a prayer ritual for the victims in the Xihuang Temple in downtown Beijing to guide the souls of those who died in the earthquake to heaven.
A press center has been set up in Yushu to facilitate the work of Chinese and foreign reporters in covering the quake and rescue efforts. Up to now, there are more than 300 reporters, among that some 70 foreign reporters, working on the ground.
By April 21, China has received nearly 4 million U.S. dollars in quake aid and donations and condolences from almost 200 countries, and international and regional organizations, with 3.96 million U.S. Dollars came from Japan, the Republic of Korea, France, the United States, Norway, Thailand and New Zealand. Leaders of the US administration and Congress as well as American people in all sectors have extended sympathies and condolences to the Chinese people and those affected by the quake. They also pledged full support for the rescue and reconstruction efforts. The Chinese community including Tibetan compatriots and Chinese students in the United States have made general donations to their fellow countrymen in China who are suffering from the disaster.
The Chinese Government and people welcome and appreciate all these efforts. We are confident that backed by the Chinese Government and people and with the strong support of the international community, people in the affected region will overcome the disaster and rebuild their homes.