Only four months into 2010 earthquakes have already left an indelible mark on the year.
Without question the Haiti earthquake is the one which will have the longest lasting impact because of the magnitude of the devastation and displacement. Quakes in Chile and northern Mexico — which also shook Southern California – have also been significant.
The latest in the string was April 14th in western China’s Qinghai Province. The quake has killed nearly 2,200 residents, according to updated figures released today, and injured another 12,000.
The seismically-active region of China suffered a stronger blow two years ago when a quake jolted nearby Sichuan Province killed 5,300 and exposed poor construction and planning.
Last week’s quake has provided a challenge for humanitarian organizations bringing supplies into the area, although the 2008 quake provided lessons which are being applied in the mountainous region this time around.
“The 2008 earthquake gave us a large-scale template of how to respond to a disaster in some of the more remote, mountainous areas of China,” Jeff Wright, World Vision’s Emergency Response Team Leader for Asia, told Everyday Christian. “There are a lot of factors to consider in every response, like the fact that some people face altitude sickness when going into areas like Qinghai. World Vision has also been building schools in the area worst affected by the Sichuan quake, carefully adhering to national building standards so that children are safe when they go back to school. We will take these learnings into account when the rebuilding process begins in Qinghai.”
The rugged terrain is complicated by bitter cold and thin air which has sickened some rescue workers.
“The main logistical challenges we have been facing come from the heavy traffic on the roads, access to some roads being limited, and the cold weather making for some perilous conditions,” Wright said. “Additionally, the local Yushu airport is temporarily closed, meaning our relief team had to drive from the provincial capital instead of flying directly to the affected area.
“We were able to procure some supplies in the provincial capital, Xining City, and transport them into the quake zone, but it took 24 hours to make what is usually a 10-12 hour trip.”
World Vision did not have programs in Qinghai at the time of the quake but did have resources in Sichuan it could apply.
“Food and shelter are the most immediate needs,” Wright said. “The cold weather underscores the importance of getting people inside a safe living area or providing warm blankets and quilts until they can repair their homes. World Vision is providing 2,000 quilts and has already provided 1,000 boxes of instant noodles. We will also be providing housing rehab subsidies to help people rebuild their homes so that they are not as susceptible to earthquakes.
“After an earthquake, it’s also very important to focus on children and make sure that their emotional and psychological needs are not overlooked. Experiencing such a destructive event can cause a lot of anxiety for anyone, let alone a young child. World Vision is providing Child-Friendly Kits that contain things like toys, hygiene items, and school supplies, to help children get back to a normal way of life.”