Communities Lose Everything in North West China Earthquake
Although Majiagou villager Zhu's newly-built house collapsed in the 6.6 earthquake that devastated North West China earlier this week, his focus is on the future of his grandchildren, as he says, “One thing I fear most is my grandchildren’s education in the new semester in September."
Seven-year-old Li is just one of the children from that same village who has been affected. "Everything started shaking," she says of the earthquake which began on the morning of July 22nd. The earthquake left Li and her family displaced from their home in Majiagou. Her younger brother, parents, and grandmother are now living in a tent.
Current reports indicate that the earthquake has killed 95 people and injured thousands in this remote and mountainous region. Over 58,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed and more than 332,300 people in Gansu Province have been affected.
A Trail of Destruction
In Li's small village, many of the children were on school vacation and were asleep when the earthquake occurred. Eight people, including six children, died during the quake. Almost all of Majiagou’s 100 homes have collapsed or have been badly damaged. Families are sheltering in tents and surviving on a limited diet of instant noodles.
Children who have lost everything in the earthquake are also likely to have their education disrupted when their school vacation ends. Many schools were destroyed or damaged in the quake and Li's school in Majiagou has completely collapsed. One hundred and twenty children from Majiagou Primary School will not be able to resume their education in September if the school cannot be rebuilt immediately.
“Although the government has quickly accommodated those made homeless by the quake, there is only one tent for every two families," says Gu Qinghui, Plan’s Disaster Risk Management Manager. Quighui continues, “We are concerned about the hygiene and nutrition situation for those affected by this disaster, especially children who are most vulnerable in any emergency.”
Plan Delivers Aid to Families in Need
Plan deployed an assessment team to the affected zone the day that the quake hit and is supporting 1,000 of the worst-affected households. Emergency relief kits have been distributed and they include toothpaste, toothbrushes, towels, feminine hygiene products, soap, washing detergent, flashlights, canned fish, and biscuits.
“These relief goods will help children and their families stay healthy during this difficult time,” says Wang Shaoping, Plan China’s Program Manager.
In addition to its immediate relief work, Plan is appealing for donations to rebuild the schools destroyed in Monday's earthquake.
"Continuing education is a key part of recovery for children who have been made vulnerable by natural disasters,” adds Sven Coppens, Country Director of Plan China. "As part of our response we will also work with children and communities to reduce their vulnerability to disasters like this, supporting the development of safer, stronger schools and communities."
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