ACT Alert China - No 2/2000: Yunnan Province Earthquake

Geneva, 20 January 2000
As reported in ACT Alert - China Nr 1/2000 of 17 January two earthquakes measuring 5.9 and 6.5 on the Richter Scale hit Dayao County and Yao An County in southwest China's Yunnan Province on 14 January 2000.

We have since received the following information from ACT member, The Amity Foundation which sent an assessment team to the area soon after the quake.

Casualties caused by the earthquakes are not as heavy as might have been because the quake of 5.9 on the Richter scale struck before the larger one of 6.5. As a result, people had been awakened by the first one and had escaped to a safer place when the second, more seious quake, struck. However, the destruction of civilian houses and public buildings is heavy with 156,138 out of the total population of 200,000 being rendered homeless.

Food, clothing, cotton quilts and shelters are the most urgent needs of the victims. At the moment, those affected are either living on the rice dug out by the army which has been sent to help, or on the food allocated to them by the local governments. With their own homes totally destroyed the majority of the people have no choice but to crowd into home made, make shift tents made of straw curtains with a thin plastic covering on the outside through which the wind whistles. Night temperatures drop well below zero centigrade making it almost as cold inside the tents as it is outside. Most of the victims have insufficient clothes and cotton quilts to keep themselves warm in the freezing nights.

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response. The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.

Amity has allocated 400,000 Yuan (about USD 48,426) from its revolving fund as its initial response to the earthquakes. After on-spot investigations and discussions with the local governments, Amity has decided to target Guan Tun Township for assistance. 3,000 cotton quilts will be purchased and distributed to 3,000 of the most vulnerable families, along with 3,000 pieces of plastic sheeting (each 40 square meters) to help them set up temporary shelter. The purchase of quilts and plastic sheeting along with the selection of beneficiary families is already under way. The first batch of assistanace materials is expected to arrive in the area in two days.

Yao An County is one of the poorest counties in China, inhabited mostly by Yi and Bai minorities. Moreover, Guan Tun Township is one of the towns most affected by the earthquakes with 2 persons killed, 256 people injured and a total of 16,183 persons affected. 21,204 room units were either damaged or collapsed and 25 schools destroyed or damaged.

An appeal of around US$ 200,000 will be issued as soon as all relevant information has been gathered.

Thank you for your attention.

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