Appeal for earthquake victims in China

Geneva, January 26, 2000
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Cross Societies today issued an international appeal for 2.8 million Swiss francs to assist 80 thousand victims of several earthquakes that struck three provinces of China in late 1999 and early 2000. The funds will be used to finance the distribution of food, blankets, warm clothing and other relief items over the next three months, by the Red Cross Society of China. The Federation's Geneva Secretariat is also releasing 300,000 Swiss francs from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to get the operation underway immediately.

Over 120,000 people in the three provinces are homeless in the bitter Chinese winter. The quakes caused widespread destruction of more than 100,000 homes. The two most severe earthquakes hit Yunnan Province on the morning of 15 January, each measuring 6.0 and 6.5 in magnitude on the Richter scale with numerous aftershocks measuring up to 4.0. Earlier, strong earthquakes had struck sparsely populated Liaoning and Shanxi provinces. Early warning, based on seismological monitoring, allowed people to evacuate their homes before the major quakes hit in the more populous Yunnan. More than 1,200 people were injured in the disasters with five fatalities. The majority of the injured are being cared for in local county hospitals.

The Red Cross appeal's objective is to ensure the rapid mobilisation of funds and goods to provide immediate assistance to a total of 80,000 victims in the three provinces (approximately 30% of the homeless); to provide food to 50,000 people for 90 days; to provide quilts to 40,000 people and to provide warm clothing to 40,000 people. All distributions take into account the severity of the disaster in specific areas and the capacity of local branches to manage and monitor the distribution of relief items. All required materials can be purchased locally.

The China Red Cross Society and its branches have worked with governmental bodies and agencies in the relief effort, and sought local and national donations in support of the affected populations. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, local branches and authorities provided several hundred tents and quantities of building material to help with temporary shelter. Further supplies of tents, quilts, blankets and plastic sheeting are being sent to the affected areas from provincial centres and neighbouring provinces. The International Federation's regional office in Beijing, in cooperation with the Red Cross Society of China, is closely monitoring the situation and taking part in a thorough assessment of needs in the affected provinces.

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact:

In Beijing:
Jim Robertson, Federation representative, Tel. (8610) 65 22 47 84

In Geneva
Press Office Tel: (41 79) 416 3881

The International Federation, the ICRC and the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies together constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

=A9 1999 International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies