Red Cross teams shift­ing to re­con­struc­tion work

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By AN BAIJIE in Lu­dian, Yun­nan and SHAN JUAN

The Red Cross So­ci­ety of China has shifted its fo­cus to post-dis­as­ter re­con­struc­tion in quake-hit Lu­dian county, Yun­nan province, as the key 72-hour pe­riod for res­cue work has passed.

As of Thurs­day, the mag­ni­tude-6.5 quake had killed 615 peo­ple.

“The Red Cross So­ci­ety is not only fo­cus­ing on res­cu­ing peo­ple buried in rub­ble, but also on post-dis­as­ter re­con­struc­tion from the begin­ning,” said Sun Shuopeng, leader of the so­ci­ety’s earthquake res­cue team.

Ac­cord­ing to Sun, the so­ci­ety sent out 200 res­cuers in four teams. Of these, 130 are as­signed to search for and res­cue res­i­dents buried in rub­ble, 20 are mainly in charge of build­ing pub­lic re­strooms in the dis­as­ter area, 20 are in charge of the wa­ter sup­ply, and another 30 are as­signed to dis­trib­ute sup­plies.

Sun said that 800 tents have been sent to the epi­cen­ter. About 500 of them have al­ready been set up. The so­ci­ety plans to pitch the re­main­ing 300 tents at the re­set­tle­ment cen­ter. But first, it will buy 190 met­ric tons of rice and 1,300 beds.

Most of the vic­tims don’t have beds and sleep ei­ther on the floor or on thin boards or plas­tic bags. Tem­per­a­tures are low dur­ing the night in the dis­as­ter area.

“Forty thou­sand beds are needed in the dis­as­ter area,” Sun said.

The so­ci­ety’s wa­ter sup­ply ve­hi­cle, which can pro­vide for 20,000 peo­ple, ar­rived on Wed­nes­day af­ter a traf­fic jam.

The team in charge of pub­lic hy­giene plans to build 200 pub­lic re­strooms in the dis­as­ter area.

“Lu­dian is on the earthquake belt, which suf­fered an earthquake in 2004. The so­ci­ety will as­sist the lo­cal govern­ment in choos­ing ap­pro­pri­ate places to build new com­mu­ni­ties,” Sun said, adding that new neigh­bor­hoods will have es­cape routes and stor­age rooms for use in emer­gen­cies.

Ding Gang, deputy direc­tor of the Red Cross So­ci­ety in Qing­dao, said vic­tims of­ten ask res­cuers to search for per­sonal prop­erty such as de­posit books and other valu­able as­sets that have been buried in rub­ble.

“It is hard to say no to vic­tims, as their re­quests are very rea­son­able. How­ever, since we are short-staffed, our search to save lives must take pri­or­ity,” Ding said, adding that it is im­por­tant for res­cuers to ex­plain this to vic­tims.

“The res­cue work is not only dig­ging up a num­ber of bod­ies, but also dis­tribut­ing goods and re­set­tle­ment,” Ding added.

Zhao Baige, the so­ci­ety’s ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent, said at a news con­fer­ence in Bei­jing on Tues­day that the so­ci­ety has col­lected 38 mil­lion yuan ($6.15 mil­lion) to help vic­tims.

He Qinghua, deputy direc­tor of the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion’s Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion Bureau, said at a news brief­ing on Thurs­day that health work­ers in the quake zone were pre­par­ing for a pos­si­ble out­break of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis.

“It’s a tough job to ward off the TB risk, as peo­ple are highly con­cen­trated,” he said, adding that Yun­nan province has long had a rel­a­tively high TB rate.

Also, “the risk of in­testi­nal in­fec­tions is rec­og­nized”, he said.

In re­sponse, in­fec­tious dis­ease con­trol ex­perts have been sent to the quake zone to help avert or con­tain any in­fec­tion out­break. Con­tact the writ­ers at an­bai­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn and shan­juan@chi­nadaily.com.cn Luo Wangshu in Bei­jing con­trib­uted to this story.

CHEN LIANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A sol­dier dis­in­fects a tent camp in Lu­dian county, Yun­nan province, on Thurs­day.

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