Friday, July 25, 2008

China faces a devastating earthquake

By Mathew Yakai in China

CHINA today faces a natural disaster in the history of mankind.

In its modern history, the people of China, particularly southwest Sichuan Province will not forget Monday 12th earthquake that devastated the entire cities and villages at around 6am.

The 7.9 magnitude terror, which was focused in China’s Sichuan Province, is estimated to have killed more then 22,000 people, and that toll is expected to rise dramatically as rescue teams still searching the rubble of collapse buildings.

About 11,000 homes have been damaged leaving five million people homeless.

In cities near the earthquake’s epicenter, over 26,000 people are buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings. One county has more than 80 percent of buildings been destroyed.

Meanwhile, this column pays tribute to the victims of cyclone Nargis which swept across Burma on May 3rd killing 78,000 people and left large numbers homeless.

BBC reports that the country’s military rulers have allowed some foreign aid in but many expert say the extent of the aid effort is wholly inadequate.

The United Nations condemned the communist regime from stopping foreign aid from going in, while Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon is organizing a meeting of global leaders at which aid for Burma will be top of the agenda.

In China, from super markets to kitchen, lecture rooms to laundry marts, children, the old and ordinary people throughout the country are watching the rescue operators, both foreign and local pulling out the dead and life ones from the collapsed buildings.

Feng Peipei promised days ago that she would celebrate her mother’s 36th birthday which fell on Thursday 15. It is a promise the 14-year-old girl will never be able to keep, People’s Daily reports.

On Thursday morning, Yi Chuanying saw the remains of her daughter being pulled out from a collapsed three-story school in Hongbai town in the city of Shifang.

“You promised we would be together for my birthday today, and for yours next month”, Yi, a divorced migrant worker who flew from Shenzhen in Guangdong province to the disaster site, cried.

“You also promised to give me a belated Mothers’ Day gift. But why did you break your promise, my dear daughter?”

The mountainous town of Hongbai is one of the worst-hit areas in Monday’s quake that struck Sichuan province

Life-detecting devices have found that most of the 700-odd students from the town's primary and middle schools have no chance of survival, rescuers have said."Today, some remains have even started to emit terrible smells.

Hope of survivors is dim," rescue team leader Wen Hongbin told CCTV news, the only English TV station in China.

But some have been lucky and been flown out of the disaster site for relocation.About 50 primary school pupils who were out in the open preparing for physical education lessons at the playground managed to escape.

Five teachers who were waiting for afternoon classes to begin at 2:30 pm were also outside the building, just two minutes before the quake struck, and managed to escape as well.

Few buildings remain standing in the town, which is about 30 km away from Shifang, one of the top-10 richest cities in Sichuan because of its chemical and manufacturing industries.

Unknown numbers of workers and miners in the town are reportedly either stuck under debris or isolated in tunnels, where electricity and communications remain cut off.

A landslide at the entrance of a main road has also blocked off the town from the outside, where the only way in is by foot.Soldiers, medical personnel and volunteers have had to walk on twisted rail tracks to deliver relief supplies.

On a road deep in the mountains of Shifang towards Hongbai, funerals for quake victims are commonplace, while quake victims made homeless meeting with relief workers moving into the area.

Many hope that roads can be repaired by the weekend, even as troops are starting to deliver relief supplies to quake-hit villagers via helicopters."It's difficult to carry out rescue work without heavy machinery, which cannot be moved in," rescue team leader Wen said.

China, is hit hard by natural disaster, especially at the time when the entire country is organizing all its resources and efforts to host the Olympic Game in August with an aim to promote “peace amongst all nations”.

During its Lunar New Year beginning this year, China was also hit hard by the heavy snow, resulting in huge transport hick-up that saw many migrant workers and students missed having celebration with their family members.

The Chinese Communist Government that puts its people first in every situation organized its resources and brought the damaged basic services back to normal.

In this tragedy, about 100,000 police and army have been deployed, international volunteers have flooded in, relieve teams within China and abroad have also flooded in.

Chinese and foreigners throughout China have queued up every where throughout China to donate blood, cash and kinds to the badly damaged province.

Switzerland offered aid for the earthquake victims, Albania donated $US40,000, and New Zealand donated $380,000. according to CCTV.

Individuals and organizations from abroad have donated US$454 billion worth of goods and cash

The United Nations and its agencies have mobilized its expertise and basic relief resources to the devastated areas.

While writing this commentary, cash and kinds are still donated from within and abroad.

At my host Jilin university, (we) the international students organized a fundraising for the devastated victims and collected 11, 567 RMB. The same fundraising activities were conducted in other universities throughout China.

A moving moment was when a six years old girl, a daughter of a lecturer donated 600 RMB and a little toy. (I literally cried when I saw this touching donation).

My Chinese language lecturer donated 4000 RMB, the money she saved for her five years old son who will celebrate his birthday on Tuesday.

From construction workers to restaurant workers, government officials to Communist Party Officials, foreigners to students who are in China have donated what ever they can with all their hearts.

Even the Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao were physically present at the earthquake site, rescuing and comforting the victims. The true love from the top humble leaders.

They are literally coordinating the relief efforts to make sure the rescued ones are well taken care of and those possibly buried under the debris are safely rescued as soon as possible.

Donations from abroad have also depicted that people have donated from their hearts.

“One World-One Dream”, the slogan for Beijing 2008 Olympic Game in Beijing, that aims at bringing people from all over the world, to meet each other through the spirit of Olympia, that can ultimately bring understanding and world peace.

However, donations flooding from within and abroad towards the relief efforts of the earthquake victims have brought the world together for a common understanding during this time.

When one suffers, despite color, origin, nationality, language differences, they experience the same pain in their hearths, because all are human beings.

The Sichuan earthquake on Monday in China has brought a “Black Monday” for China, and human race, but a day for humanity to share the commonness they have in life.

The forthcoming Beijing Olympic in August this year will go even further to strengthen our human relationship.

It is sad, the 14 years old Feng Peipei will not celebrate her mothers 36th birthday because her mother died in the earthquake.

Yi Chuanying will not celebrate her birthday today with her daughter and for her daughter next month as her daughter is one of the casualties.

Many who managed to survive the devastating earthquake have their own moving stories to tell. They lost their loved ones and their homes.

Sadly, we can not bring back those who have perished under the debris of the buildings, but we can help comfort Yi, Feng and others who are in pain at the moment.

My donation of 500 RMB during the fundraising at Jilin University will eventually make, in a little way, Fi, Feng and others live a normal life. You can do the same. For donations, please seek assistance from the Chinese Embassy in Port Moresby.

For those who have relatives in China can email Liza on for more information on their conditions.

I mentioned in my last commentary that I will write on the Olympic Game as of today but given the relevance of this situation, I decided to postpone it to next week.

Note: Asia-Pacific Perspective: China + looks at Chinese society, culture, economy, governance and China’s role within the Asia Pacific region and the world over. It mainly focuses on how Oceania can learn from China’s experience. The writer is a PNG student in China.

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