Archive for the ‘earthquake’ Category

China: Govt Trying To Make Earthquake Deaths OK, Failing Miserbaly

November 21, 2008

The news conference on Friday was meant to explain how far the government has come in helping victims of the earthquake that devastated Sichuan Province last May. More than 200,000 homes have been rebuilt, 685,000 are under reconstruction and $441 billion will be spent in the coming years to help make Sichuan whole again, Wei Hong, the provincial vice governor told reporters.

By Andrew Jacobs
The New York Times

But a garbled translation of Mr. Wei’s words ended up shifting public attention from reconstruction efforts to unresolved questions about how many children perished beneath the rubble of their poorly built schools.

Asked about the final student death toll by a foreign reporter, Mr. Wei gave a lengthy answer that ended with the figure 19,065 — more than double previous estimates and one that would suggest that a quarter of earthquake victims were children. Lest there be any doubt, the official English translation of Mr. Wei’s remarks placed the word “student” after the figure 19,065.

The news was immediately picked up by the foreign and Chinese media. Within hours it was even posted on the central government’s main Web site. In a country where official statistics are often taken with a grain of salt, the figure seemed like a stunningly frank admission that the earthquake’s toll on children had been even more horrific than anyone imagined.

Later, however, the government issued a clarification, insisting that Mr. Wei’s remarks were flubbed by his translator. The figure 19,065 applied to the number of positively identified victims, it said, not the number of dead students.

For now, the official death toll from the quake stands at 69,227, with 18,222 missing. A government spokesman said the authorities were still working on a final tally of dead students. In the past, the government has said that 7,000 classrooms were destroyed across the province.

Coming six months after the 7.9-magnitude earthquake, the episode has refocused attention on aspects of a national catastrophe that the government would rather forget. Although an investigative committee acknowledged in September that many of the schools that crumbled were shoddily constructed, the government has yet to issue a full report, and yet to hold anyone accountable.

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China Says Children Killed In Earthquake Vastly More Than First Reported

November 21, 2008

China acknowledged Friday for the first time that more than 19,000 schoolchildren were among the dead in the massive earthquake that struck Sichuan province in May.

By AUDRA ANG, Associated Press Writer

The earthquake left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing, but the government had never said how many of the casualties were students. Most died when their shoddily built elementary and secondary schools collapsed.

Their deaths become a sensitive political issue for the government, with parents of dead children staging protests demanding investigations. Many of the parents have also been subjected to intimidation and financial inducements to silence them.

The student death toll of 19,065 was given at a news conference on preparations for the winter by Wei Hong, executive vice governor of Sichuan.

Wei said that millions of those displaced in the earthquake still need quilts and repairs to their homes if they are to survive the coming winter, expected to be unusually cold.

The earthquake, which was centered in the southwestern province of Sichuan, displaced millions and left China struggling to carry out reconstruction work.

Wei said relief work was important because experts were predicting temperatures would be slightly lower this winter in the area compared to previous years.

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Crowd attacks government office in China

November 18, 2008

Up to 2,000 people attacked a local Communist Party headquarters in northwestern China’s Gansu province early Tuesday, state-run media reported.

The conflict stems from plans to relocate the city of Longnan’s administrative center after a deadly earthquake in May that devastated the region, according to Xinhua news agency.

About 30 people opposed to the move gathered Monday morning at the party office, and throughout the day the crowd swelled to several thousand before “some complaining people attacked (the) Municipal Committee office building, smashed some vehicles and office facilities,” Xinhua reported.

The May earthquake killed tens of thousands of people across northwestern China. In Longnan, 275 people died and another 6,000 were injured. More than a million homes were destroyed or damaged.


Pakistan: Red Cross Pleading For earthquake Help

November 2, 2008

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Sunday appealed for 7.8 million dollars in emergency funding to help victims of the powerful earthquake that rocked southwest Pakistan this week.

The ICRC said that the money would be used to step up the relief effort being carried out by its teams and those from the Pakistan Red Crescent Society.

Up to 300 people were killed and tens of thousands more left homeless when a 6.4-magnitude quake struck before dawn in mountainous Baluchistan province on Wednesday, flattening mud-brick houses as people slept.

Some local people in remote villages have complained that aid has been slow in reaching them, particularly protection from sub-zero night-time temperatures. Health officials have warned of the spread of deadly diseases among children.

The ICRC’s head of delegation in Islamabad, Pascal Cuttat, said: “Our priority will be to provide shelter as winter sets in.

“Because of continuing aftershocks, many people decided to sleep outdoors, at altitudes of 2,000 to 2,500 metres (6,500 to 8,200 feet).”

UNICEF on Friday appealed for five million dollars in donations to help its work providing shelter, clean water, food and medicine to vulnerable young children and women.

The United States has donated one million dollars to the relief effort, the US Agency for International Development said Thursday.

Among other foreign donations was a 100-million-dollar aid package from Saudi Arabia, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan said.


Pakistani earthquake survivors sit next to a green apple farm ... 
Pakistani earthquake survivors sit next to a green apple farm in Wam. The International Committee of the Red Cross has appealed for $7.8 million in emergency funding to help victims of the powerful earthquake that rocked southwest Pakistan.(AFP/Banaras Khan)