23 May 2008
by Liu Lei
Mianyang, Sichuan province, China:
After several days' efforts, some good news comes to us this morning. IFRC emergency tents will be transported to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, next Tuesday from Sweden. The first batch of tents - 10,000 in total - will be shipped by two or three aeroplanes with about 180 tonnes in each. Then the IFRC plans to send more in future months, with perhaps about 20,000 tents transported to Chengdu every week.
We have a phone meeting with the president of the Mianyang Branch of the Sichuan Red Cross, Ms. Chen Hong, and discuss with her issues of customs procedures, quarantine, transportation and delivery. In order to make the best use of the IFRC tents, we negotiate with the Mianyang Red Cross that all family tents will only be used by hospitals and schools; small tents go to individual refugees. According to the plan, together with the regional health delegate UNV will help track the usage and operate an inspection to avoid abuse of the system.
In the afternoon, we meet a coordinator from the Swiss embassy. We share information that the Swiss Red Cross and Swiss Government are jointly to donate 1,000 tents, totalling 70 tonnes, to the disaster area in Sichuan. These tents will arrive in Shenzhen City tomorrow in two planes and will then be transported to Chengdu in two or three days.
It's great to hear that those tents will be delivered to Qinchuan County in Guangyuan City. Four times aftershocks above 6 on the Richter scale have hit Qinchuan; the Shizishan mountain in Qiaozhuang nearby has been split in half, and 5,000 people are under threat. Experts from the State Earthquake Bureau and the Ministry of Land and Resourses were there on 21 May and performed a full check on the ruptured condition of the mountain. With that emergency, 10,000 people were transported to safety.
There are now 250,000 refugees living in Qinchuan, and all of them have been displaced to eight camps and 50,000 of them are under another terrible threat, the broken Shiziliang mountain. But thanks to the help from the international communitiy, Sichuan will recover soon.