Mouldy bread sent to Typhoon Rammasun victims in Hainan

Provincial civil affairs department apologises after relief efforts to a prefecture in the northeastern part of the province included bad food

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 July, 2014, 1:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 July, 2014, 2:57pm

Mouldy bread was sent to victims of Typhoon Rammasun in Hainan province in the latest scandal involving mainland relief efforts.

An official from Hainan, the southernmost province, admitted the substandard food had been sent to Wenchang prefecture in the northeastern part of the island, state media said.

“The civil affairs department is to blame [for sending mouldy bread], and we apologise to the disaster-stricken people” said Hainan civil affairs director Miao Jianzhong at a news conference on Monday.

The bread caught media attention after a blogger who was helping people in the area posted pictures of it online, Xinhua reported.

A villager told the blogger that two packages of bread sent as relief food had turned bad, even though the expiry date was still more than four months away.

The bread was made in Fujian province, and the printing on the package said the production date was July 1.

Authorities in Hainan said they were investigating and had stopped sending 290 other packages to areas hit by Rammasun, which hit the island on Friday and raged through Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan in southern and southwest China.

The death toll of the strongest typhoon to hit China in four decades was 33, with more than eight million people affected, Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

Relief efforts were already caught in controversy after the Red Cross Society sent quilts and jackets to typhoon-hit areas even though temperatures in the region are now at their highest of the year.

Sending quilts to people affected by natural disasters is a routine practice even in summer, the scandal-plagued Red Cross Society of China said yesterday in response to widespread criticism over the charity's choice of assistance to victims of China's most severe typhoon in four decades.

Yang Xusheng, director of the organisation's aid department, told The Beijing News that it had sent thousands of cotton quilts to Guangdong, Hainan and Guangxi since Super Typhoon Rammasun made landfall on Friday. As of 5pm yesterday, 38 people were confirmed dead, and 31 were missing in Hainan, Guangdong, Guangxi and now Yunnan , battered by heavy rainfall from the typhoon.

Members of the public questioned why the charity would send quilts to areas where daytime temperatures in the middle of summer can reach 35 degrees Celsius or higher.

In an online poll of 5,400 internet users by sohu.com only 12 per cent said it was reasonable to dispatch quilts because they have multiple uses.