Yaan earthquake

Quake relief supplies not reaching rural areas of Yaan

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 April, 2013, 3:09pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 April, 2013, 8:06pm

Food, tents, blankets, medical supplies and bottled water - these are some of the materials in dire shortage in parts of earthquake-ravaged Yaan in Sichuan, and rural dwellers are getting restless.

“We are very dissatisfied with the government’s efforts … for people like us living out in remote areas, we are getting nothing,” said He Xiaobing, a villager from Taiping town’s Shengli village.

Our car arrived at a very dangerous turn on the moutain road, where rocks could fall any time. We saw people in military uniforms getting off their vehicles to take photos as if they were heroes, holding up traffic putting others in danger. I could not believe my eyes.
Keith Zhai, SCMP Correspondent in Lushan

“The government doesn’t care about us, no one has asked about us and all the aid is going to the central areas and districts.”

Shelter has been the biggest problem. For Yaan, that means a lack of tents for the 17,000 who are now homeless from the quake.

He, 42, said his group of 350 homeless villagers had to share nine tents loosely strung to the ground and with no flooring. Only 100 bottles of water were delivered to the village the night before, he said.

Taiping party secretary Wang Dong urged villagers on Tuesday “not to worry” because “a lot of supplies would be coming soon once the roads were cleared". Most of the resources were concentrated in Lushan, he said.

Tianquan county party secretary Zhao Changlin said on Monday that at least “12,000 more tents” were needed. Many were making do with makeshift canopies set up in school playgrounds.

Blocked or damaged roads have supposedly been hampering the delivery of aid and supplies to the worst-hit rural areas such as Tianquan and Taiping. The persistent threat of landslides from rains has added to this difficulty.

However, Chang Xueming, a rescue worker from Wenzhou-based Blue Sky Rescue Team said he did not see any problem with the roads. “It could be that the supplies have been too concentrated in main central areas,” he said.

Rumours spreading online also say roads are being blocked by “government leaders” getting out of their cars to pose for photos in front of reporters.

Military airdrops, which have so far been the preferred method of aid delivery to cut-off Baoxing, are also constrained due to heavy mist.

With pipelines damaged at Lushan’s water plant, 24-hour centralised water supply units have been set up by roadways to cater to an area still facing a serious shortage.

In Baoxing county, medicine continues to fall short of demand and injured patients are being shuffled between temporary medical stations and hospitals, all of them experiencing an acute shortage of space and supplies.

According to a Beijing Morning Post report, fresh meat and vegetables have been delivered to Baoxing but most of the food has been left for rescue workers, officers, volunteers and reporters. Villagers, meanwhile, are living off “rations of instant noodles and bottled water”, the report said.

“What we need now are tents for 3,000 more people and rations to feed 8,000 more people,” said Shuangshi county party secretary Song Zheng. Song said due to a lack of farmland, villagers in Shuangshi have recently relied more on food imports and thus, have small inventories of food.