Situation Report No. 1 on the Yunnan Earthquake

Situation Report
Originally published
Information was collected from Oxfam Hong Kong field staff, local partners, counterparts, civil affairs departments and NGOs working in China.
A. Brief Background

A powerful earthquake measuring 6.0 in the Richter scale struck last Saturday, 15 January in Southwest China with the epicentre in Yao-an County, Yunnan Province. An aftershock measuring 6.5 followed 90 minutes later. The danger of strong aftershocks has not been discounted.

Oxfam Hong Kong field staff has responded quickly. On the same day a rapid needs assessment in coordination with local partners in Zuomen Township of Yao'an County, Chuxiong Yi Ethnic Minorities Prefecture, Yunnan Province was held. According to field updates, there are clear signs of greater shortage of food, shelter and clothing for those affected populations living in remote and poorer villages compared to those living near county towns and cities. Oxfam has committed at least HKD300,000 to provide immediate relief items for those affected in the remote Zuomen Township. The relief materials are expected to arrive in the township by Wednesday or earlier.

The affected might be in need of more relief assistance to help them pass through the colder weather in the coming weeks. Due to the large amount of damaged and collapsed houses, Oxfam Hong Kong is likely to involve in rehabilitation work. Plans will be finalised pending further assessments.

B. General Situation

Government seismologists warned that powerful aftershocks up to 6.0 Richter scale would pose a serious threat to at least 500,000 of the affected populations in the four counties in Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture. Four people have died since two aftershocks measuring 5.9 and 6.5 on Richter scale hit the region. Most of the affected are staying outdoor under zero or sub-zero temperatures.

According to Oxfam field staff there has been significant damage. In Yao'an County alone (the quake's epicentre), 149,100 people, or more than 81 per cent of the population was affected. Some 82,379 rooms (not houses) were damaged, 22,739 rooms collapsed and more than 30 schools were damaged.

Oxfam Hong Kong is focusing relief efforts in Zuomen Township, one of the officially designated poor townships in Yao'an County. In Piaolaqiao Village of Zuomen township, 136 households or 554 villagers were affected. All houses were damaged with cracks all over the structures. Our field staff reported that the affected are facing serious shortage of shelter materials, food and clothing. Most of them already lost two-thirds of their harvest in last year's summer floods. After the earthquake, at least one-third of the villagers (about 40 households) are facing food shortage for up to three months. Since Saturday, they collectively received a small amount of relief materials from the government: 1,500 kg of rice which can last for three days for all the villagers, 250-metre-long plastic sheets and 24 rolls of tar sheets which can only build shelters for less than 40 houses. Several cases of highly infectious scarlet fever were also reported. The provincial government has been sending medicines and medical teams to the village.

C. Oxfam Hong Kong's Work

Oxfam field staff continue their relief work in Zuomen Township and is also conducting assessments in other nearby remote villages. Oxfam is also alert about the further damages and dangers in the expected powerful aftershocks. Oxfam is capable of meeting the present scale of humanitarian needs that have been identified, and is ready to scale up relief efforts if needed.

Compiled by China Team
Oxfam Hong Kong