On the afternoon of January 12 local time (around 5:00 a.m., January 13, Beijing time), a powerful earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale struck Haiti, causing heavy casualties and massive property losses. Eight Chinese riot policemen on peacekeeping duty were buried in collapsed buildings. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council attached great importance to the safety of the Chinese peacekeepers. General Secretary Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao immediately made important instructions, calling for a speedy investigation into the situation and active efforts to rescue the buried peacekeepers, guarantee the safety of the Chinese staff, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan compatriots, and overseas Chinese and provide humanitarian assistance to Haiti.
It is reported that the Chinese international rescue team consists of over 60 members including search and rescue professionals, medical care professionals, and seismic experts. They carried with them large quantities of supplies and pharmaceuticals and emergency rescue equipment such as life detectors. The team left for Haiti by special plane at 8:30 p.m. January 13 to support the local rescue and disaster relief work. The Red Cross Society of China decided to provide international humanitarian emergency assistance of one million U.S. dollars to Haiti. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi had already sent a message of condolence to his Haitian counterpart. The consular protection center of the foreign ministry opened a 24-hour hotline to provide timely assistance to the Chinese including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan compatriots and overseas Chinese.