“So far they have only been able to release 20 or 30 survivors,” says Francis Marcus of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, when somberly describing a high school in Beichuan, China. The school housed approximately 1,700 students and teachers, many of whom were in class when the 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck, reducing the building to rubble. The first medical responder to enter Beichuan County was a medical team from the Chinese Red Cross.
Residents look for signs of survivor among the rubble of a collapsed building at the township of Hanwang in Mianzhu city, northeast of Chengdu, in Sichuan province. (Credit: REUTERS/Bobby Yip)
The Red Cross Society of China mobilized immediately after the earthquake, sending employees and volunteers to help those in the affected areas by providing relief supplies such as tents, quilts, water and food. Hundreds of volunteers have been coming in from Chengdu, the provincial capital, to help with rescue and first aid. Others are providing relief supplies such as tents, quilts, water and food. Red Cross relief workers are also providing shelter to thousands of people left homeless.
According to Marcus, many of the roads are still blocked and relief distribution networks are just being established. As the full scope of this disaster comes to light, the American Red Cross is ready to support the Red Cross Society of China in its response efforts.
“Our hearts go out to those whose lives were lost and to families affected by this massive earthquake,” said David Meltzer, senior vice president, International Services of the American Red Cross. “We are prepared to help our fellow humanitarian organizations during this critical time.”
The American Red Cross has pre-positioned relief supplies— like tarps, insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and water jugs— in Kuala Lumpur, Dubai and elsewhere to be able to quickly assist survivors of international disasters. The American Red Cross will coordinate its response activities, which may include providing financial support, relief supplies and trained disaster experts— with the International Federation and Red Cross Society of China.
Every day people around the world are suffering from disasters, like the cyclone in Myanmar. You can help those affected by this crisis and countless others around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation by either contacting 1-800-HELP NOW or mailing your donation, with the designation, to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.