Specialist teams helping survivors in Sichuan following earthquake

تم النشر: 3 مايو 2013 16:28 CET

Red Cross Society of China specialist teams are now helping thousands of survivors of the earthquake in Sichuan’s Ya’an district, which left nearly 200 dead and many more injured. They have been providing immediate medical treatment, food, clean drinking water and latrines to Earthquake survivors. The Red Cross has also received a lot of support itself from the local community.

By Kevin Xia in Lushan

Liao Xueli will probably never forget the experience of last month’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake, which struck her village in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province – even though she had what she feels is a lucky escape in the disaster. The quake struck while she was crossing a bridge.

“The earth was shaking and cracking; I definitely would have been killed by a collapsed wall if I had not been on the bridge,” said Ms Liao, 50.

Her house didn’t fare so well. It was damaged beyond repair, so now she and her husband are living in a van with a waterproof tarpaulin for a roof.  Although they are both safe, their life plans have been thrown into disarray. “I was expecting to go and take care of my pregnant daughter, but I cannot go now because I have to stay to rebuild my house,” says Ms. Liao.

Ms. Liao used to work as a tailor, making a living by going into the nearby township to help others repair their clothes when the farming season was slack. She has suffered from hyperthyroidism for many years and the disease made her feel dizzy and uneasy even before the disaster. But the April 20 earthquake has made the situation even worse. “I had not slept for days and horrible scenes come to my mind when I close my eyes,” she said.

A Red Cross Society of China (Beijing Branch) Medical Rescue team came her village on April 25 and she was able to receive psychosocial support to help her relieve her uneasy state of mind. The doctors also referred her to the provincial capital Chengdu to further check the status of her hyperthyroidism.

Meanwhile Ms. Liao was also able to do her part, volunteering along with several neighbours to help to cut and wash vegetables for the Red Cross team’s mobile kitchen, which has been providing hot meals for thousands of villagers.

She said: “I am more relaxed now after seeing the doctor. They provided us with so many medicines and nutritional foods. We feel deeply grateful.”

Doctors from the medical team say they plan to continue to camp in the village and provide medical support to nearby communities. The main diseases they are encountering are respiratory and skin traumas, with many cases of eczema due to the continuous rain and intense humidity.

In addition to the medical team, three water and sanitation emergency response teams have been deployed to the disaster area. These were formed on the basis of the international Emergency Response Units, deployed by International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to Sichuan after the 2008 earthquake.

One of the teams, from Hunan Province, has set up set up its water purification equipment, originally donated by the Austrian Red Cross, in the village of Luxing, where it can provide clean water for thousands of people each day.

“We are grateful to the Red Cross for bringing us clean water, because our water supply has been polluted by landslides after the earthquake,” said Kou Zhongqin, a 42-year-old farmer.

She survived the earthquake, although her new house collapsed, despite only having been finished half a year ago. It was supposed to have been passed down to her elder son for his marriage. “At least I survived the quake. We still can make money again and hopefully earn back what we’ve lost, but some of neighbors did not make it,” she said. “Life is so unpredictable. People can leave us anytime.”