Limited road access, cold temperatures are key concerns
HONG KONG, April 14 /CNW/ - Aid group World Vision is dispatching a team of three aid workers from Beijing and other parts of China to quake-stricken Qinghai Province early tomorrow, local time. The team, invited by the government to participate in assessments of the damage, will take with them a limited amount of hygiene items as they seek to assess the full scope of needs. Access into hard-hit Yushu County from the provincial capital will be a key challenge for the aid workers, all veterans of China's devastating earthquake in Sichuan two years ago.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs says it is planning to send 5,000 tents, 50,000 quilts and 50,000 winter jackets to the affected areas. According to Meimei Leung, who will lead World Vision's assessment team into the affected area tomorrow, adequate shelter and warm clothing for children and families is a key concern, as average temperatures in the area have been hovering between -3 to 14 degrees Celsius. Hygiene, medical and other health needs may be a critical area of need that World Vision can help fill, Leung said, based on early conversations with the Qinghai arm of the China Charity Federation, the government group that coordinates with aid agencies.
Assessing conditions for the quake's youngest survivors will be the team's top priority. "Based what we learn on the ground, we will be moving quickly to meet the needs of children, particularly to help them establish a normal routine again and stay clear of dangerous rubble," said Leung. Leung's team is taking with them some child-friendly kits with toys and drawing materials children can play with as their parents struggle to cope in the immediate aftermath.
World Vision will also be looking into reports of schools that have collapsed in the area. The aid group has been building schools in the area worst affected by the 2008 Sichuan quake, carefully adhering to national building standards so that children are safe when they go to school.
"With this quake there have been a series of aftershocks and this can be very frightening for children. It is important that they seek safety in earthquake proof buildings or open areas, away from hazardous buildings," said Victor Kan, World Vision's humanitarian emergency director.
So far some 400 people have reported died and 10,000 have been injured in Qinghai, a remote and mountainous province. Hard-hit Yushu County in particular is considered to be one of the poorest areas in China, inhabited mostly by herders who belong to the Zang minority group. While the county has a population of just 70,000 people, the fact that the epicenter was close to the county seat, combined with the early morning time of the quake, resulted in a higher number of casualties, Leung explained. "The quake struck at 7:49 am local time when most people were asleep, and many were trapped inside damaged buildings," she said.
World Vision first began working in China in 1982, and has reached a total 2.1 million people affected by the 2008 Sichuan quake, including helping communities rebuild homes, schools and livelihoods. The aid group also instructs thousands of children and families in China about disaster safety, including earthquake safety, using cartoon books that teach children where to go, what to do and who to contact in order to save lives ahead of a disaster.
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SOURCE World Vision Canada
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