Red Cross helps victims of China tornado

Published: 26 June 2016 10:38 CET

By Shu Liu and Wuyang Peng, IFRC

A powerful tornado accompanied by torrential rain and hailstorms ripped through several cities in Jiangsu Province in the east of China.

The storm, which struck last Thursday afternoon, caused at least 98 deaths and injured more than 800 people. Two hundred people remain in a critical condition. 

The Red Cross Society of China Jiangsu Branch immediately sent 500 tents, 1,000 family kits and 3,000 jackets from its warehouses in Shanghai and Hangzhou to support relief efforts in Funing County, the worst affected area.

More than 8,000 houses were destroyed in the county. Local rescue squads immediately launched emergency operations and were reinforced with relief teams from other parts of the country.

Wind speeds were estimated to have reached up to 125 kilometres per hour and most buildings in the path of the tornado were damaged, including schools and factories. Many houses were levelled to the ground and streets are littered with debris, including bricks, overturned cars, broken trees and fallen power pylons.

Local people were the first to respond to the disaster. The Red Cross branch in Funing mobilized volunteers to help in hospitals and deliver food and quilts to the wounded and their families. At the same time, many people queued outside to donate blood through the Red Cross.

The tornado was the most serious disaster to hit the province in many decades. As rescue efforts continue the number of casualties is expected to rise further.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs provided an additional 1,000 tents, 2,000 beds and 10 sets of floodlights to support the relief efforts.

The Red Cross headquarters also released 300,000 RMB (around 45,000 US Dollars) emergency relief funds and will provide additional support as needed.

Red Cross response teams from nearby branches arrived in Funing within a few hours to help with resettlement and food distributions.

The Chinese Red Cross Foundation contributed an additional 500,000 RMB (around 76,000 US Dollars) for the purchase of family kits and other emergency supplies that are needed to support disaster victims in the affected areas.