Cold and misery for earthquake victims in China

From IFRC Weekly News 05/00
Almost 100,000 people are living out in the open in the freezing cold, after a series of earthquakes struck the province of Yunnan in south-western China in mid January. Five people died, more than 1,200 were injured and tens of thousand of traditional mud brick houses collapsed. Whole villages have been destroyed and winter crops have failed in the unseasonably cold weather.

In Yao An County, the devastation is overwhelming. Tens of thousands of families are living in makeshift camps beside their villages. The same area was struck by flash floods in August, destroying crops, and unseasonably cold weather has caused this year's winter crops to fail. Yunnan province is one of the poorest regions in China and the people of Yao An County - predominantly farmers - have time and again been struck by disasters, and deprived of their livelihood as well as their homes. Feng Xia Ping, 32, who lives with her family of five, has lost everything. "We need food, clothes and quilts. When the disaster happened we ran out of the house with only the clothes we are wearing." In Xin Jie township, the worst snowfall in 50-60 years is exacerbating people's suffering in this mountainous area.

The Yunnan branch of the Red Cross Society of China has sent tents and food to the earthquake victims, but many families still have to do with makeshift shelters under the snow. It has also put up a health care post in a tent. The Hong Kong branch has distributed winter clothing and quilts, and sent financial support to the Yunnan branch to purchase rice, quilts, coats and tents. Continuous aftershocks in the area - the most recent measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale - have prompted serious concerns.

But despite the harshness of Mother Nature, the villagers of Yao An County have started to rebuild their houses, in an effort to escape from the freezing cold and the Chinese government has dispatched soldiers to assist with reconstruction. The International Federation launched an international appeal last week to provide relief assistance to the victims in Yunnan as well as to 40,000 homeless people living in Shanxi and Lianing provinces - also struck by earthquakes last month.


17 Chemin des Crêts, Geneva
Tel: (41 22) 730 4222
Fax: (41 22) 733 0395