Specialist teams scale-up efforts to help earthquake survivors in Yunnan, China

Publié: 19 août 2014 18:03 CET

By Kevin Xia, IFRC

Li Xuanmei, a 60-year-old farmer from Hulukou Village,  was lucky to survive the 6.5-magnitude Yunnan earthquake, which left more than 600 dead and damaged or destroyed over 66,000 homes in China’s southwest province. Her house in Hulukou Village did not fare so well. It was damaged beyond repair and she and her husband and their granddaughter resorted to sleeping on a plank bed with a waterproof tarpaulin for a roof.

“The rain and windstorm blew off the roof several times, we had to fix it every time. My poor granddaughter developed bronchitis because of the cold,” said Li.

The turning point for Li and her family came when a Red Cross Society of China relief team arrived in her village and began to set up tents for the villagers.

“It is great, more than enough room for us all,” Li said as she was introduced to her new home.  The  tent comes equipped with a bed and electric circuit, together with a supply of rice.

Almost 230,000 people were displaced from their homes due to the earthquake and one of the main roles of the 470 member Red Cross emergency response team has been to set up temporary shelter sites for families like Li’s.

“After setting up 200 tents, we also procured beds and rice for the Hulukou shelter center. The goal is to make sure each survivor has access to food, clean water, shelter and clean latrines,” said Sun Shuopeng, Vice president of Chinese Red Cross Foundation and the field leader for the response team.

In addition to the relief team, the Red Cross has deployed 18 National and Provincial Emergency Response Teams, to the quake affected areas that are providing different services including clean water provision, mass sanitation, and psychosocial support services to help survivors cope with the trauma they have undergone.

One of the teams has set up its water purification equipment in Longtoushan Town, the epicenter of the earthquake, where clean water can be provided for thousands of people each day. The Mass Sanitation Emergency Response Team has installed nearly 120 temporary toilets in the affected area and has been working closely with the authorities to increase awareness about post-disaster health issues through brochures, drawings and broadcasts.

“Our water supply has been polluted because of landslides caused by the earthquake,” said Zhou Dinglan, a 54-year-old farmer. “Clean water is so important for me as I need it to prepare my traditional Chinese medicines.”

Zhou will never forget the experience of the earthquake, which buried her parents in the ruins of the family home and injured her grandson’s leg. She was able to receive psychosocial support from the Red Cross to help ease her state of anxiety. “I am more relaxed now after seeing the doctor,” she said.