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Press Release 2008/05/23 - Top leadership: Prevent epidemics, minimize quake losses
[Released in New York at 10:30 p.m. on Friday, 23 May 2008]

2008/05/23



350 East 35th Street, New York, NY 10016     Tel: 1 (212) 655-6197     Fax: 1 (212) 220-6543

 

For Immediate Release
Press Section
May 23, 2008

Death toll: 55,740; 292,481 injured; 24,960 missing
Top leadership: Prevent epidemics, minimize quake losses
Rescuing people still a priority; Tents and makeshift shelters urgently needed

HIGHLIGHTS

  • · 1. Facts and figures about China quake and relief.
  • · 2. China takes measures to stabilize prices in quake zone.
  • · 3. No radioactive incidents caused by radioactive sources in quake-hit areas.
  • · 4. 546 hidden perils of geological disasters detected.
  • · 5. China's quake-formed lake in danger of bursting, emergency solution underway.
  • · 6. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) deploys satellite terminals in quake-hit China.
  • · 7. Disease prevention: Ministry of Public Health sends more disease prevention workers and materials; Ministry of Environmental Protection: Guarantee the safety of drinking water; Zoonosis prevention team heads for quake-hit areas; China quake-hit Sichuan on high alert for rodent diseases.
  • · 8. Chinese psychological society: guidelines for the media.
  • · 9. Approval of relief drugs sped up.
  • · 10. Development Bank to offer 26 billion loan to Chengdu for reconstruction.
  • · 11. Supervision of the administration and distribution of relief supplies strengthened; counter-corruption measures taken.
  • · 12. Donations and other int'l aid: Largest Chinese organization in Malaysia donates 2,000 tents; WFP buys 473 tons of food for quake-hit areas again; Mobile hospitals for 250,000 people from German Medical Team arrived; Medical teams from Germany, Japan, Russia and Italy reach quake-hit areas; Indonesia sends first group of relief materials.
  • · 13. Miracle: 14 miners saved after 200 hours' trap.
  • · 14. 6.2 million yuan found and returned by PLA soldiers.
  • · 15. Senior Chinese official vows supervision of disaster relief. Use of quake relief materials open to public oversight. Four officials in Dujiangyan removed from office. Impropriation of tents is under investigation in Sicbuan. Vice president of Sanya Red Cross punished.

 

Facts and figures about China quake and relief

Following are the latest facts and figures (as of Friday, 23 May 2008) about the massive 8.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked southwest China's Sichuan Province on May 12:

  • -- The death toll from the quake rose to 55,740 nationwide as of Friday noon, while 292,481 people were injured and 24,960 people were missing; 73,939 injured hospitalized for treatment; Over 20,000 injured released from hospital; 3,451 died in hospital; over 11 million transferred for resettlement.
  • -- 5.9325 million houses were severely damaged and 5.4619 million collapsed, as a result of the devastating quake.
  • -- Domestic and foreign donations had reached 24.6 billion yuan (3.5 billion U.S. dollars), up 3.2 billion yuan overnight. And 3 billion yuan had been forwarded to the earthquake-affected areas.
  • -- A total of 443,340 tents, one of the most urgently needed relief supplies, had been delivered to quake regions.
  • -- A total of 18,334 makeshift houses, 2,319,347 quilts and 3,074,526 garments had been sent to these regions.
  • -- The government disaster relief fund reached 14.6 billion yuan as of 2 p.m. Friday, up 654 million yuan from the previous day. The fund included 10.826 billion yuan from the central budget and 3.8 billion yuan from local budgets.
  • -- A total of 175 aftershocks measuring above four on the Richter scale had been monitored in the quake areas by midday Friday.
  • --76,000 volunteers have come to work as volunteers for quake relief. They are responsible for allocating materials, collecting information about the safety of quake-hit victims and etc.

China takes measures to stabilize prices in quake zone. China's top economic planning agency has urged local pricing authorities in quake zones and other places of the country to strengthen monitoring on relief materials prices to better serve reconstruction in disaster areas.

  •  The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Friday urged authorities in Sichuan, Chongqing, Gansu and Shaanxi, which were affected by May 12 8.0 magnitude earthquake, to stabilize prices of building materials by limiting profit margins or issuing guideline prices in the run-up to the country's biggest post-quake reconstruction project since 1976. Such intervention measures will cover tents and construction materials including steel, cement, glass and timber. The agency also banned local authorities from raising prices of commodities, including electricity, oil and gas, Temporary price intervention has been carried out in quake zone, covering food, medicines, and transport since the 8.0-magnitude earthquake. Any trader who jacked up prices in the quake region would be fined or banned from doing business according to the national Price Law.
  •  The Price Law stipulates that the illegal earnings of the traders can be confiscated and they can face fines of up to five times the illegal earning, while those who make no sales can be fined from 20,000 yuan (2,857.1 U.S. dollars) to 400,000 yuan, or face closure.

No radioactive incidents caused by radioactive sources in quake-hit areas Deputy minister of the Ministry of Environmental Protection Wu Xiaoqing declared at the press conference this afternoon that by 12:00 on May 22, the six professional groups had found 50 radioactive sources containing potential dangers. 35 of them were stored and the positions of the rest 15 were fixed, according to Chinanews.com.

546 hidden perils detected in Xi'an. Xi'an Geological Bureau has inspected all collapsed mountains and landslides caused by Wenchuan earthquake. There were 546 hidden perils of geological disasters detected, Xinhua reported.

China's quake-formed lake in danger of bursting, emergency solution underway.

  •  Workers are planning to dig channels to reduce the increasing water in a quake-formed lake which is in danger of bursting and poses threat to residents downstream in southwest China's Sichuan province. An armed police squad for hydroelectric missions had started work at the Tangjiashan Lake site. Construction workers and equipment would be airlifted to the lake site as continuous landslides had made the area inaccessible by road.
  •  The Tangjiashan quake-formed lake is 3.2 km upstream from the Beichuan county seat. As of Friday, the lake had stored about 100 million cubic meters of water. Its water level in front of the dam rose 2.6 meters on Friday. Experts warned if measures were not taken, it would probably burst, posing serious threat to the safety of lives and property of downstream residents. Dozens of quake-formed lakes had emerged in the worst hit areas in Sichuan. Authorities and experts have been closely monitoring the risky lakes.

ITU deploys satellite terminals in quake-hit China. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has deployed 100 satellite terminals in China to help restore vital communication links in the aftermath of the severe earthquake that hit on May 12, the UN agency said on Thursday, according to Xinhua.


Giant pandas Tuantuan, Yuanyuan safe in Wolong (photo story)

Chinese psychological society: guidelines for the media. The Chinese Psychological Society has set up a specialized group to support psychological relief work in the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake. As President Hu Jingtao emphasized in a speech on May 16, post-disaster mental health care is just as important as physical relief and reconstruction.   The psychological relief group will operate a program to provide mental-health consultation and care to survivors of the disaster. As one of its first initiatives, the group has suggested some guidelines to journalists working in disaster areas.

  •  Interviews with children: 1. Try to avoid interviewing children, especially injured children. 2. If interviewing a child, get prior permission from both the child and his/her parents or guardians. 3. Interviewees' faces should be blurred if they agree to be interviewed on television. 4. Explain how the interview will be used and where it will be published. 5. Do not interview the same child more than once. (If the child has already been interviewed by another media organization, do not interview him/her.) 6. Show consideration for children's mental-health. Do not force children to repeatedly re-live painful experiences.
  •  Interviews with experts and adult survivors: 1. Establish friendly relationships with experts; discuss the purpose of the interview before you start. 2. Always try to get an expert opinion. 3. Ask experts for data which can be quoted and published. 4. Focus each interview on one or two points and get detailed information on those points. 5. Check the information you are given is correct. 6. Keep victims' personal information confidential. 7. Establish contact with managers of organizations. 8. Interview experts doing relief and treatment work. 9. Protect survivors; give them the right to control the content and timing of interviews. 10. Avoid interviewing the same person many times over; repeated interviews may compound psychological damage caused by the disaster.
  •  Reports should have positive and hopeful themes, for example: 1. How people are successfully fighting back against the disaster. 2. The responses of adults, teenagers and children to the earthquake: 3. Personal or family mental-health therapy and support. 4. The reconstruction of social support systems and networks. 5. Groups with special needs, such as old people, children and the disabled. 6. How relief staff, volunteers and medical staff are coping with the disaster.
  •  Matters to pay attention to during the interview: 1. Ask positive questions, such as what kept you going under debris for such a long time? 2. Do not ask press interviewees on questions they are unwilling to answer. 3. Do not ask for painful details, such as to asking people who have lost a child how they themselves escaped. Interviews should be well structured, rational, and scientific.

Ministry of Public Health sends more disease prevention workers and materials. The Ministry of Public Health sent more disease prevention workers and materials to quake-hit areas Friday. By May 23rd, 3,558 workers and 227 cars for health supervision had been sent to quake-hit areas in Sichuan, according to Xinhua.

Approval of relief drugs sped up. In order to ensure drug supply in quake-hit areas, the State Food and Drug Administration decides to give special approval to the manufacture of relief-needed drugs, according to China News. These drugs include Red Cell Storage Solution, anticoagulant for storage of whole blood, etc. The approval of such drugs will be finished in one day.

Ministry of Environmental Protection: Guarantee the safety of drinking water. Deputy minister of the Ministry of Environmental Protection Wu Xiaoqing declared at a press conference this afternoon that the Ministry of Environmental Protection would focus on guaranteeing the safety of drinking water in quake-hit areas.

Zoonosis prevention team heads for quake-hit areas. On May 22, a zoonosis prevention team composed of members from the Ministry of Agriculture and the PLA General Logistics Department headed to Sichuan Province's quake-hit areas including Wenchuan and Beichuan counties, China News reported. After arriving at the quake-hit areas, they started dealing with dead animal bodies, sterilizing the surroundings. They also helped cure the injured.

China quake-hit Sichuan on high alert for rodent diseases. China's quake-struck southwestern Sichuan Province has been on high alert for rodent diseases with large amounts of bait having been deployed and special personnel trained.

  • Thirty monitoring locations and a daily reporting system have been established in the quake-affected areas, the Sichuan Agricultural Department said.
  • The province has set up six working teams for the prevention and control of mice-transmitted diseases, 180 special monitoring staff and a prevention force of 3,000 local residents, it said.
  • More than 36,000 sprayers and 640 tonnes of bait or killing medicine have been allocated to the areas, the department added.

Senior Chinese official vows supervision of disaster relief. Senior official He Guoqiang stressed the strengthening of the supervision of the administration and distribution of relief supplies here on Friday. Those who embezzle, misappropriate or retain relief funds or supplies and speculators who take advantage of the disaster will be strictly punished, He told a conference on combating corruption. He, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, told officials at the meeting to faithfully implement all the decisions of the central government to overcome all difficulties to complete disaster rescue and relief. He also stressed that all the officials must faithfully implement the work plan on prevention and punishment of corruption from 2008 to 2012. "We'll try to establish a framework of corruption prevention and punishment in the next few years including education, supervision and punishment related to corruption," he said. "We hope to further curb corruption, improve the work style of the party and increase people's satisfaction with our fight against corruption while implementing this plan," he said.

Four officials in Dujiangyan removed from office. Four officials in Dujiangyan City failing to carry out orders during the quake rescue period are removed from post, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Use of quake relief materials open to public oversight. Vice director of the Civil Affairs Department of Sichuan Province Chen Kefu said at a press conference this morning that the use of quake relief materials will be open to public oversight by publishing the detailed information about the use on the Internet, according to China News.

Impropriation of tents is under investigation. Vice Governor of Sichuan Province Li Chengyun said at the press conference this morning that whether tents for quake-hit areas were impropriated was still not clear, and the inspection department was still investigating it, according to CNS.

Vice president of Sanya Red Cross punished. The government of Hainan Province decided to suspend the office of Wang Li, vice president of the Red Cross organization in Sanya, because she threatened in a video to charge 5% on donators' money. Red Cross in Hainan Province clarified that the video was not about the earthquake and all the donations received for earthquake rescue were forwarded to quake-hit areas through a special channel. Nonetheless, they were shocked by Wang Li's bad attitude and improper behavior towards donators, according to Xinhua News Agency.

China Development Bank to offer 26 billion loan to Chengdu for reconstruction. According to China Development Bank (CDB), after its 10 million yuan donation to quake-hit areas in Sichuan and its 0.13 billion yuan emergency loan to Chengdu, it will offer Chengdu a loan of 26 billion yuan for reconstruction.

Largest Chinese organization in Malaysia donates 2,000 tents. Recently, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), the largest Chinese organization in Malaysia, donated 520,000 MYR and about 2,000 tents worth of 200,000 MYR to China's quake-hit areas, according to China News Agency.

Pakistan donates 22,260 tents for quake-hit areas in China. Deputy Foreign Minister Wang Yi received a detailed list of the 22,260 tents donated by Pakistan government for quake-hit areas in China.

WFP buys 473 tons of food for quake-hit areas again. WFP (The United Nations World Food Program) bought another 473 tons of relief food again for quake-hit areas, including rice, powder, cooking oil, which can support 100,000 quake-hit victims for 3 weeks. These goods will be allocated to quake-hit families by the Red Cross Society and sent there this weekend.

Mobile hospitals for 250,000 people from German Medical Team arrived. The 12-member German medical team brings mobile hospitals for 150,000 patients arrived at Du Jiangyan City May 23th. It includes both policlinic and hospitalization departments, with the maximum accommodation of 250 beds in the latter department. Workers from both sides are now working on establishment of them within 24 hours, according to China News Agency.

Medical teams from Germany, Japan, Russia and Italy reach quake-hit areas. According to the Red Cross Society of China, German medical group arrived in Chengdu on the morning of May 23rd. On May 19th, Red Cross Society of China was given permission to accept help from some foreign medical groups. Since May 20th, medical groups from Germany, Japan, Russia and Italy have reached quake-hit areas.

Indonesia sends first group of relief materials. An Indonesian C-130 took off at 12:00a.m. today, heading for China's quake-hit areas in Sichuan with Indonesia's first group of relief materials. The materials include 215 tents, five tons of medicine, four tons of food for babies and one ton of instant noodles, according to Xinhua News Agency.

14 miners saved after 200 hours' trap. With the direction of Dai Zhiqiang, Chief of Air Force artillery unit, a group of firemen and volunteers reached Jinhe Hydropower Station after 15 hours' trek, and successful rescued 14 trapped miners in a cave on May 19. The 14 miners were trapped in the cave for more than 200 hours.

6.2 million yuan found and returned by PLA soldiers. From the morning of May 15 on, 86 soldiers from the second artillery unit began their hard work to rescue the trapped victims in the ruins of the Credit Cooperatives of Beichuan County of Sichuan Province, and they successfully rescued nine victims. On the evening of May 21, they dug out over 6,200,000 yuan of cash and lots of precious documents. At 10:00 this morning, the money and documents were handed over to Chen Lixiong, president of the Credit Cooperatives, according to PLA Daily.

Quake-damaged railway reopens to traffic: The whole line of quake-damaged Baoji-Chengdu railway reopened to traffic Saturday after 283 hours of closure, allowing batch transport of disaster relief goods to China's quake-hit Sichuan Province.   No. 977 train carrying urgently needed relief goods of tents and medicines passed through the railway's No. 109 tunnel at 9:53 a.m. Saturday, where a 40-car freight train derailed and was trapped, paralyzing the railway in the May 12 earthquake.  The railway, linking Chengdu, provincial capital of Sichuan, with Baoji city in neighboring Shaanxi Province, is a key north-south route in west China. The southern section of the railway reopened on Friday after workers finished repairs on a key bridge that was damaged by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake with its epicenter in Wenchuan County, Sichuan.  While the northern part of the railway remained blocked due to the difficulties in pulling the derailed wagons, which carried gasoline, from the damaged tunnel. For the past 12 days of rescue operation, rescuers and relief goods had been transported into the mountainous quake zone mainly by airlift or through frequently disrupted road links, because of the closure of the damaged railway.     
 

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