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Earthquake destroys homes in China

26 July 2013


Too late: rescuers find a victim killed in an earthquake in Gansu

Too late: rescuers find a victim killed in an earthquake in Gansu

THE international children's charity World Vision has sent an emergency task force to north-west Gansu province, in China, after two powerful earthquakes struck on Monday morning.

Officials in the province said that the shocks, which were less than 90 minutes apart, have killed at least 94, injured more than 1000, and have destroyed thousands of homes.

The World Vision team will take 400 tarpaulin rolls for makeshift shelters, and 2000 hygiene kits, containing towels, soap, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. They will also provide 2000 child-friendly packs containing toys, stationery, and simple hygiene items. The team includes a psychology expert who will evaluate survivors' needs, and help affected children to feel safe again.

The manager of the charity's Wushan office, in Gansu, Wai Kim Lee, said that he felt the stairs shaking as he left his house for work. "People rushed into the street to find out what was happening," he said.

Working with colleagues in Hong Kong, he is sourcing the tarpaulins in the provincial capital of Lanzhou, while the rest of the aid will come from a forward warehouse in Tianjin.

The national director of World Vision China, Victor Kan, said: "By distributing these kits to children in targeted disaster-affected communities, we hope to help the children re-establish a sense of normality, and ensure that they enjoy good psychosocial health."

Gansu, which is about 750 miles west of Beijing, is one of the more lightly populated areas of China, and includes mountains, desert, and pastureland. Earthquakes, however, hit Min County, on the southern edge of the city of Dingxi, which has a population of about 2.7 million. The government news agency Xinhua reported that more than 51,000 houses had collapsed, 240,000 had been severely damaged, and more than 226,000 people had been forced out of their homes. Power lines and mobile-phone communications had been cut.

The Chinese army deployed 3900 soldiers, and the Ministry of Civil Affairs allocated 10,000 tents, 30,000 quilts, 5000 foldable beds, and 10,000 sleeping bags to affected areas. The Red Cross Society of China sent relief supplies, including jackets and tents, but landslides have made it harder to reach some areas, and rain threatens further mudslips.

The Chinese government's earthquake-monitoring centre said that the initial tremor was a magnitude of 6.6, and subsequent tremors included a 5.6 magnitude. There were more than 400 aftershocks. The Dingxi government said on its microblog that the earthquake has caused a direct economic loss of £21 million.

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